‘Thank-you’ Sheriff Vaughan

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SUFFOLK, Va. – For Linda Tuck, a simple thank-you wasn’t enough.

Tuck, the youngest sister of two Emporia, Va. women murdered over two years ago whose bodies were found near Murfreesboro, wanted to express appreciation, on behalf of her family, to Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan following an arrest in the case on Nov. 20.

So, what does one say to a man who just locked-up a person believed responsible for killing your sisters? In Tuck’s case, action speaks louder than words.

On Wednesday morning, Tuck presented Sheriff Vaughan with a huge, framed thank-you card as the two met at her office in Suffolk.

“Our family named Sheriff Vaughan as our number one hero of the year,” Tuck said, making reference to the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office arresting William Curtis Futrell of Franklin, Va. for two counts of first degree murder in the Aug. 4, 2006 deaths of Dorothy Hobbs, 74, and her 71-year-old sister Nellie Bradley.

“Sheriff Vaughan and his investigators have done an excellent job of handling this case,” Tuck noted. “He maintained constant contact with our family over the course of the two-plus-year investigation, calling me at least once a week, sometimes five to six times per week.”

Tuck added that she and her family (there are two other surviving sisters and one brother) were extremely appreciative of Sheriff Vaughan’s efforts in solving this case.

“We knew from day one that we were in good hands,” Tuck said. “Many cases of this nature drag on for 20 years or more and Sheriff Vaughan was determined from the very beginning that this would not happen because of the emotional trauma it has caused our family. He is the greatest…a big man with an even bigger heart.”

Vaughan said he appreciated the kind gesture from the family.

“My heart went out to that family,” said the Sheriff. “I remember the day we discovered those bodies in the woods. I cried that day and I don’t mind telling you that I did. Those two women were loved by their family. They were someone’s mother, grandmother, aunt. We were going to do everything within our power, call in whatever resources we needed to solve this case. It took some time, but we did solve it.”

Vaughan said he and his officers had the support of the family throughout the investigation.

“They were great to work with,” he stated. “I’d often feel bad about having to call them and inform them that no arrest had yet been made, but we were still working the case extremely hard. They never took that news badly; instead they would offer me encouraging words to keep looking, to keep searching for the killer.”

For Tuck and her family, dealing with the daily doses of emotion was like riding a roller-coaster.

“We never put this out of our minds,” she said of remembering the life and legacy of her two older sisters. “Personally, Dot and Nellie were like mothers to me because they were much older. But neither I nor my family was alone in this. We had Sheriff Vaughan. I can’t think of a better man to have on your side. I hope the people there in your area know how lucky they are to have a man, a Sheriff, such as Juan Vaughan.”

Tuck said she “borrowed” the number one hero of the year idea from the Anderson Cooper news show on CNN.

“I started with a small thank-you card that just got bigger and bigger,” she said.

As far as having the arrest now behind her, Tuck said at least that page of this case is now closed.

“Two things came to mind – relief and thankfulness – when Sheriff Vaughan called to say that an arrest had been made,” Tuck concluded. “We are relieved and thankful that the person responsible for this crime is behind bars and that he can’t cause harm to anyone else. We were just so afraid that the person responsible would hurt someone else, especially an elderly person.”