Child victim improves

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WINTON – Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan is praising the efforts of his officers for their immediate reaction to a murder-suicide situation here Friday where a five-year-old child survived.

“All law enforcement officers are trained to handle even the worst of circumstances, but the events from Friday morning kicked that training into a much higher gear when we learned that a child was involved,”Vaughan said.

Answering a call of shots fired in the Tuscarora community just south of Winton, HCSO officers made the grim discovery of two deceased adults – later identified as 56-year-old James William McCutcheon Jr. and his estranged 40-year-old wife, Catherine. Both lay dead in what was an apparent murder-suicide.

However, there was a survivor.

“There was a little girl, the daughter of the victims, that was with a man (Mrs. McCutcheon’s uncle), who was complaining to our officers that her stomach was hurting,” Vaughan said. “(HCSO) Investigator Dexter Hayes reacted, gently lifting up the girl’s dress and discovering she was suffering from a gunshot wound to her abdomen.”

Vaughan said that even though Hertford County EMS had been summoned to the scene, Hayes – assisted by HCSO Investigators Greg Harrison and Brian Pearce – immediately took the child to his patrol car.

“He was in the process of transporting the child to R-CH (Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital) just as the rescue squad arrived at the scene,” Vaughan said. “Unfortunately, there was nothing none of our officers could do at that moment for the parents, so they turned their attention to the little girl.  I commend them for their efforts.”

Vaughan added that it appears the child is on her way to recovery.

“From what we’ve been told through the child’s uncle, she underwent successful surgery and is doing better,” Vaughan said. “However, I’m fairly certain that she has a long road ahead of her in addressing the emotional scars from this tragic event.”

Vaughan said according to the uncle, additional family members have been at the hospital with the child.

Meanwhile, autopsies were performed Monday in Greenville on Mr. and Mrs. McCutcheon.

Friday’s incident was reported through a 9-1-1 call placed to the Sheriff’s Office at 9:42 a.m.

The investigation, according to Vaughan, revealed that Mrs. McCutcheon was at her residence, located at 104 Whitley Lanein the Tuscarora community south of Winton, and was in the process of moving items into a rented U-Haul.

“At that time, Mr. McCutcheon came out of his residence, located across the street at 104 Whitley Circle, and had a conversation with his wife at her residence,” Vaughan said. “He then walked back to his residence, and then returned to inside her residence at which time three shots were fired.”

Vaughan said it was obvious that the couple was separated as they resided at different homes, but he did not know if it was a legal separation.

“Mrs. McCutcheon had her uncle with her at her residence; he heard the three shots,” Vaughan said. “Because he didn’t have a telephone he got someone there nearby to make the 9-1-1 call.”

Vaughan said the uncle was not shot at nor was he injured in any way during the incident.

Mrs. McCutcheon was employed as the Director of Nursing at Roanoke-Chowan Community College, but had resigned that position two days prior to her murder. Mr. McCutcheon was employed as a “float pool” nurse (as needed) at Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids.

Vaughan said Mrs. McCutcheon died as the result of a gunshot wound to the chest. Mr. McCutcheon died of a self-inflicted gunshot to his head.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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