Murder suspect arrested

Published 12:53 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MERRY HILL – Bertie County Sheriff John Holley reports that an arrest has been made in the homicide of 80-year-old Bessie Mae Slade White of Merry Hill that occurred last week.

Aaron Riddick, 32, of Perrytown Road in Colerain was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies shortly after 12:15 p.m. Wednesday. Riddick is believed to be related to White, grew up around her and called her, “Ma Bessie.”

Aaron Riddick

Aaron Riddick

“We received a tip,�� Sheriff Holley told the News-Herald in regards to leading them to develop Riddick as their suspect. “We checked it out as part of our working the case.”

Riddick is charged with first degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He is being held without bond in the Bertie-Martin Regional.

The sheriff says he believes money – $400 in U.S. currency – may have been the motive behind the slaying.  He also revealed that White’s wounds occurred when she was fatally stabbed with an 8-inch kitchen knife from her own home, but he would not say for certain whether that was the murder weapon.

White’s death happened sometime on the night of March 4 at her residence of 1615 NC Highway 45 between Colerain and Merry Hill.

Local firefighters answered a call of a blaze at White’s residence and when they arrived the house was completely engulfed in flames.

After the blaze was under control the firemen made a search of the house and White’s body was discovered face-down on the floor of her sitting room. Her body was later transported to Greenville to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

The next day, the pathologist said autopsy results revealed White died of multiple stab wounds and the case went from an arson investigation to a homicide.

The Bertie County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) returned to the burned out ruins Thursday to begin their investigation.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Riddick was released from prison in May of 2009 after serving a five-year, five-month term for felony burglary and felony larceny. Those crimes were committed in BertieCounty in late 2002. He was convicted on those charges on Aug. 13, 2003.