Pet duck helps find murdered woman’s body 2 years after her death

‘If I could give that duck a medal, I would,’ deputy said

Stock image of a duck. The duck in the photo is not the same duck from the article. (Pixabay)

CANDLER, N.C. – A pet duck helped aid in the discovery of a woman’s body in North Carolina.

Nellie Sullivan, who was in her 90s, disappeared in 2020 under “suspicious circumstances,” Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Sgt. Mark Walker told WLOS.

Sullivan’s granddaughter Angela Wamsley and her husband Mark Barnes, were taken into custody in Dec. 2020 on charges related to Sullivan’s disappearance.

According to a press release from BCSO, Wamsley was officially charged with concealing a death in Jan. 2021 and Barnes was given the same charge in Dec. 2021.

Nearly two years of searching never led to the discovery of Sullivan’s body.

“Mark [Barnes] actually sent us on a wild goose chase which resulted in us digging for several days in a site that he knew she was not located at,” Walker told WLOS.

However, it was the new homeowner’s pet duck that eventually led investigators to Sullivan’s body last week, according to WRAL.

“Apparently the duck ran underneath the trailer at 11 Beady Eyed Lane and as (the owners) were chasing after their pet duck, they ran across the container that Nellie Sullivan was was located in. If I could give that duck a medal, I would,” said Walker.

Investigators were following up on the case when the duck ran underneath the trailer. They believe Sullivan was brought to the trailer after being murdered at a different location, WLOS reported. It’s unclear from the information released by the sheriff’s office who owns the trailer.

“Since the beginning of this investigation we have sought to locate Ms. Sullivan’s remains, afford her the respect she deserved, and restore dignity to the life she once lived. We are dedicated to utilizing all available science, technology, and investigative skills necessary for justice to be served in this case,” said Angie Tullis, Captain of the Criminal Investigation Division at BCSO.

Walker told WLOS that Wamsley and Barnes concealed the body and then continued to collect Sullivan’s social security and retirement benefits in addition to filling her prescriptions.

“Instead of receiving the care she needed from those that are supposed to love her the most, she received the exact opposite in the worst possible way,” Walker said.

An official cause of death for Sullivan has not yet been released.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.