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Whitakers family seeks answers to man's death in snow

Gene Dunn, 61, disappeared Saturday night and was found 12 hours later, lying in the snow, clinging to life.

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The family of Gene Dunn, 61, raised questions Thursday about how he died Dec. 26. 

Dunn spent Christmas Day with his family, but he left after getting a phone call, they said. By the next afternoon, he was dead. 

Authorities said Dunn was found in the snow Sunday after a 12-hour search. He died on the way to the hospital.

What happened between his Christmas night disappearance and his death is the subject of some debate.

Investigators believe he went to visit a friend and eventually left the home on foot while it was snowing. His family said Dunn called his father at about 2 a.m. to ask for a ride. He planned to meet him at the intersection of U.S. Highway 301 and Elinor Road. When his father arrived at the rendezvous point, Dunn was no where to be found.

Dunn's sister, Wanda Barnes, said family members drove around for hours looking for him. Eventually, they called the Nash County Sheriff's Office.

"All we wanted to do was to find him," she said.

Twelve hours elapsed between the time of Dunn's call and when he was found. 

His family is shocked by his death and confused by the investigators' decision to rule out foul play. 

"It had to be pointed out to the hospital that his face had been beaten, his coat was gone. It was his favorite coat. His jewelry was gone," his aunt, Fran Lynch said. Family members say as they searched for Dunn, someone else answered their calls to his cell phone.

Investigators said they found nothing suspicious and said the weather likely played a role in his death.

Barnes, for one, is not ready to close the case. 

"If anyone around here saw anything, anything, will they please get in contact with someone," she begged.



Mike Charbonneau, Reporter
Jodi Leese Glusco, Web Editor

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