08/23/05 — Autopsy shows strangulation was cause of death

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Autopsy shows strangulation was cause of death

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 23, 2005 1:48 PM

Brenda Lee Owens, whose body was found Friday in the Neuse River, died of asphyxiation after being strangled, according to a preliminary autopsy report.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office received the tentative report Monday from the state's Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill. A final report will not be completed for at least six weeks.

Mrs. Owens' husband, Robert, had reported that his wife was missing early Thursday morning.

Sheriff's detective and deputies, later informed that foul play may have occurred, continued an intense investigation and questioned the husband several times. They found Robert Owens' body at about 4 p.m. Thursday behind the couple's home on Riverbend Road, about 100 yards from the Little River. He had died from a self-inflicted single gunshot wound detectives said.

Officers then extended their search for her body from a one-mile radius to a five-mile radius. The body was found, entangled on a branch, by deputies and the Arr-Mac Water Rescue Team, about a quarter-mile from the Ferry Bridge Road crossing.

Sheriff Carey Winders later called the deaths a murder and a suicide.

Winders said that based on the evidence and witness interviews, he believed that Mrs. Owens was killed at about midnight Wednesday and that Owens took her body about three hours later to the bridge.

The couple had been having marital difficulties, detectives said.

The couple left three children.

Mrs. Owens' funeral was scheduled for today at Rosewood First Baptist Church.

Owens' funeral arrangements are pending.