11/30/07 — A sister lost forever

View Archive

A sister lost forever

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 30, 2007 1:46 PM

Kathy Holt Alfaro knew what was coming when she saw uniformed men at her door.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders and others arrived at her home in LaGrange around 1:20 p.m. Tuesday to tell her that her sister, Patricia Herring, was dead, Mrs. Alfaro said.

"They came to my door and actually, they didn't have to tell me a thing," she remembered.

It's not yet clear how long Ms, Herring, 42, also of LaGrange, had been buried under the porch of a single-wide trailer occupied by David William Best, 24, of Selah Church Road, law enforcement officials say.

But Mrs. Alfaro said Sheriff's Office officials told her that by the appearance of the body, it might have been buried up to a year.

Hearing that she was within feet of her sister's body when she first went to question Best about Ms. Herring's disappearance makes the news of her loved one's death even harder to bear, Mrs. Alfaro said.

The sisters were already suspicious that Best -- Ms. Herring's live-in boyfriend and a contract carpenter -- was not being honest about the whereabouts of their sister.

They visited him three times during the days leading up to filing a missing person report with the Mount Olive police on Aug. 12.

The story about their sister changed slightly each time, with new and different details about her location.

Mrs. Alfaro said she at first gave Best the benefit of the doubt.

That changed when she asked Best a question about her son. The words he attributed to Ms. Herring did not sound like Mrs. Alfaro's sister, she remembered thinking.

The last time she visited Best, she asked to use the bathroom at the single-wide trailer, looking for "her hairbrush, or anything like that," Mrs. Alfaro said.

Fighting back tears, she thought about how close she must have been to Ms. Herring's body, unearthed carefully by state and local officials on Wednesday.

"I was at the back door that my sister was buried at," Mrs. Alfaro said, her voice faltering with the memory. "Why didn't I just walk out the back door? It hurts. I just hope he gets what she got. He needs to die."

The murder count filed against Best on Tuesday was not his first brush with the law.

Court records show a 2002 case where Best, then of Dudley, paid $1,995 in restitution after a guilty plea on a charge of injury to personal property.

Then, in 2004, Judge Jerry Braswell approved a sentence agreement in which Best agreed to plead guilty to a breaking and entering count.

He was sentenced to six to eight months of intermediate punishment, with 24 months supervised probation, which means either reporting to the day punishment center or house arrest, court clerks said.

Penie Ann Smith, Best's aunt, approached the crime scene on Wednesday, saying she had heard that her nephew was in trouble.

Mrs. Smith and her husband, Wayne, live nearby on Richard Smith Road, they said. Police confirmed they were relatives.

Best was adopted by Mrs. Smith's sister, Ernestine Best, Mrs. Smith said.

She said she had last seen Best at a family Thanksgiving dinner.

"We all came over here and had dinner," Mrs. Smith said. "And everything was going all right, then. He (Best) ... said nothing about this."

In a small gathering at a LaGrange home on Thursday night, Mrs. Alfaro and her sister Loretta Lynn Holt and others talked about Ms. Herring's life.

They described her as a woman who loved to dance and loved Southern rock, especially Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mrs. Alfaro said.

Ms. Herring did not respond well to the death of their mother, Dotty Holt, also of LaGrange, a few years ago, Mrs. Alfaro said.

Ms. Herring was described by her sisters as a happy child, who would gladly take part in anything for the company and excitement.

"Pat would do anything that you asked her, she would do anything if you were doing it," Mrs. Alfaro said.