Local News

Women charged in death of man who jumped from car

Posted July 25, 2008 7:24 p.m. EDT

— Two Fayetteville women face charges in the death of a Dunn man who investigators say they abandoned after he jumped from a car.

Rhonda Cortez, 26, of Henry Street, and Sarah Beth Harbus, of Bailey Lake Road, are both charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony leaving the scene of an accident.

Investigators said Johnnie Robert Jones, 34, of Wise Road, jumped from a car in which the three were riding along Strickland Road in Harnett County more than three weeks ago.

Jones suffered severe blunt-force trauma when his head struck the pavement, but he did not die upon impact, said Sgt. Tim Baldwin, with the state Highway Patrol. He said the women called 911 twice, hanging up the first time and giving Jones' location in the second call.

Baldwin said that troopers are still trying to determine why Jones jumped from the car, but he emphasized that they do not believe it was a suicide attempt.

Cortez, who is married, was reportedly in a relationship with Jones, investigators said.

Troopers charged Cortez and Harbus with leaving the scene, and the Harnett County Sheriff's Office charged them with involuntary manslaughter after investigating the death.

Cortez was being held on a $5,000 secured bond for the involuntary manslaughter charge and a $2,500 unsecured bond for the second charge.

Harbus was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.