Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Ashe Schow.
A family's pet duck helped police locate the body of a woman who has been missing more than two years. (Disclosure: Duck pictured above is not the hero.)
Nellie Sullivan hadn't been seen since 2020, and investigators long assumed she had been killed. Her granddaughter, 46-year-old Angela Wamsley, and Wamsley's husband, 50-year-old Mark Barnes were charged in mid-December 2020 with a slew of charges, including "misdemeanor animal cruelty, unlawfully reconnecting a utility, animal abandonment and synthetic cannabinoid possession. Barnes was additionally charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon,"
At the time of the couple's arrest, the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office began investigating Sullivan's disappearance, immediately believing the circumstances to be "suspicious,"
police told the outlet in a statement.
Sgt. Mark Walker, with the Major Case Unit, told ABC 13 that "It became pretty apparent almost immediately that Miss Sullivan had disappeared under what can be said suspicious circumstances."
Police looked for Sullivan, who was in her 90s at the time of her disappearance, and executed multiple search warrants at different locations, but found nothing. "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 ABC.
During the investigation, they discovered Wamsley and Barnes were allegedly collecting Sullivan's benefits checks and continuing to fill her prescriptions.
"On December 20, 2021, Mr. Barnes was charged with concealing a death and Ms. Wamsley received the same charge on January 7, 2021,"
the sheriff's office said in a statement to People. "Wamsley was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a Detention Officer at the Buncombe County Detention Facility in January of 2021."
Still, police didn't know where Sullivan's body was, and they wouldn't learn for several more months. In the meantime, Wamsley and Barnes were charged yet again, this time "with 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,"
Barnes then gave investigators a location that authorities believed may be where Sullivan's remains would be found, but they found nothing during a search, meaning police still couldn't charge the couple with murder.
On April 14, however, a family's pet duck would change everything.
The duck, who has not been named in media reports, escaped from its owners in Candler, North Carolina, and ran under a trailer. When its owners tried to retrieve it, they found a container containing Sullivan's body.
"Apparently, the duck ran underneath the trailer at 11 Beady Eyed Lane, and as they were chasing after their pet duck, they ran across the container that Nellie Sullivan was located in,"
Walker told ABC. "If I could give that duck a medal, I would."
The outlet added that authorities believed Sullivan had been killed somewhere else before being placed in the container.
"Her remains have been sent to an anthropologist for further examination just so we can try to nail down exactly how long she's been deceased,"
Walker told ABC. "We do know it was multiple years."
With Sullivan found, Wamsley and Barnes were formally charged with first-degree murder.
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