The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office has closed a missing person’s investigation — all thanks to some serious fowl play.
According to reports, Angela Wamsley (above, left), 46, and Mark Barnes (above, right), 50, were formally charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Wamsley’s grandmother, Nellie Sullivan, on April 21.
The North Carolina couple have been in custody since mid-December 2020, when the department opened an investigation into Sullivan’s disappearance, which was almost immediately deemed “suspicious,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
Wamsley and Barnes were charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, unlawfully reconnecting a utility, animal abandonment and synthetic cannabinoid possession early in the investigation.
Multiple search warrants were executed at various locations as part of the search for Sullivan — who was reportedly in her 90s — however, detectives weren’t able to find any sign of the missing woman. Meanwhile, authorities discovered that Wamsley and Barnes allegedly continued to collect the grandmother’s benefits checks, and had also allegedly continued to have her prescriptions filled.
The pair were slapped with even more charges in March 2021: obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery, trafficking in heroin or opium by possession, trafficking in heroin or opium by transport and felony conspiracy. The sheriff’s office’s statement continued:
“On December 20, 2021, Mr. Barnes was charged with concealing a death and Ms. Wamsley received the same charge on January 7, 2021. Wamsley was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a Detention Officer at the Buncombe County Detention Facility in January of 2021.”
But detectives were unable to accuse the couple of murder without Sullivan’s body.
Barnes later gave authorities a location, allegedly suggesting the missing woman’s remains might be there. Frustratingly, though, a search of the area turned up dry. On April 14, however, that all changed when a pet duck escaped its owners and, as fate would have it, waddled beneath a trailer in Candler, North Carolina. While attempting to get the duck back, the bird’s owners came across the container Sullivan’s body had been placed in. Wow!
Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Mark Walker told WLOS News 13:
“If I could give that duck a medal, I would.”
Srsly, that duck should be billed for it’s services!
An anthropologist is working to determine how long ago Sullivan, who suffered from health issues along with dementia, was killed. Authorities believe she’s been dead for “multiple” years.
Barnes or Wamsley are being held without bond.
[Image via Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office]