Couple Arrested After Duck Leads Police to Missing Body

Remains of missing woman found under mobile home in North Carolina
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2022 1:23 PM CDT

Police near Asheville, North Carolina, give credit to a runaway pet duck for helping solve a two-year-old investigation into an elderly woman's death. According to NBC News, the duck's owners chased it under a mobile home, where they discovered a container with decayed human remains. After an autopsy, authorities determined it was the body of Nellie Sullivan, who "disappeared sometime in 2020," says the Buncombe County Sheriff's office. Police immediately charged Sullivan's granddaughter, Angela Wamsley, 46, and her partner Alan Barnes, 50, with first-degree murder.

Apprehending the couple was no problem, since they were already in jail on a variety of charges, including drug trafficking, animal cruelty, and—as of early 2021—concealing a death, according to a post by the sheriff's office. Investigators say the clues were all there, per local ABC13, including the fact that the couple continued to collect the victim's Social Security and retirement benefits, along with her prescriptions, yet nobody has seen Sullivan since 2020. Police say the couple lived with the grandmother at a separate location and then hid her body at the trailer.

Sullivan suffered from dementia and other health issues. She would be 93 now, but police do not know exactly how old she was when she died. Her body has been sent to an anthropologist to figure out how long she has been dead. Buncombe County Sgt. Mark Walker told ABC13 that it "became apparent almost immediately that Miss Sullivan had disappeared under ... suspicious circumstances." He went on to say that he was shocked by the couple's callousness. "I would like to say that I'm never surprised anymore, but this case—it was surprising," he said. (More murder charges stories.)

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