Case ruled murder-suicide

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GATESVILLE – An estranged husband and wife are dead in what local law enforcement are calling a murder-suicide.

Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb said 55-year-old Cecil Vann Parker and his 48-year-old wife, Brenda Delphine Parker, were found dead in their home Friday night.

On Monday, the State Medical Examiner’s office in Greenville, after performing an autopsy, attributed Mrs. Parker’s death to asphyxiation (choking). The autopsy report was not complete on Mr. Parker, but Sheriff Webb said all indications were that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Webb said Deputy Darryall Brown was dispatched shortly before 7 p.m. on Friday to a residence located at 784 US Highway 158 West on the Gatesville Bypass.

“A call placed by a male advised our dispatcher that a female was deceased at that residence,” Webb said. “The caller did not identify who they were, only that help was needed at that location.”

Upon Deputy Brown’s arrival, he could not get anyone inside to answer the door. At that point, Webb said a neighbor approached Brown, advising the deputy that they thought they heard a gunshot coming from the direction of the residence.

Gates County Sheriff’s Sgt. Glynda Parker was summoned to the scene.

“It was determined at this point to make an effort to enter the home,” Webb stated. “The officers went to the rear of the home and found the back door unlocked. They carefully entered the residence, loudly announcing their presence and who they were. No one responded.”

Mr. Parker was found first.

“It was obvious that he was dead and that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head,” Webb said, adding that a shotgun was lying at his feet.

The officers then went further inside the home, finding Mrs. Parker.

“She had no pulse upon being found in the home,” Webb noted. “When the rescue squad arrived, they attempted to revive her, but to no avail.”

Webb said the residence and property were secured and the SBI summoned to aid Sgt. Parker and Chief Deputy Billy Spruill with the investigation. Around midnight, both bodies were transported to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital and then to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Greenville.

“The investigation revealed no forced entry; no robbery…this appears to be a murder-suicide,” Webb said.

The Sheriff said the couple was separated, but both listed the residence as their home.

“From what I understand they remained in contact with each other,” Webb said. “They had an agreement to perform custodial work on Fridays at a church. They were seen together doing that work earlier on Friday.”

Webb said no previous calls for an officer’s assistance have been made from the residence.

“From what I know about the couple, both were well-respected in the community,” Webb concluded. “What happened here on Friday that pushed something over the edge will never be known.”