06/15/08 — Morales murder suspect jailed

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Morales murder suspect jailed

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on June 15, 2008 12:37 PM

Wayne Sheriff’s Office authorities say a 23-year-old neighbor killed a Fremont mother of two in her home in March.

Brandon Lee Williams, of N.C. 222 East, Fremont, lived just four miles away from his alleged victim, Silvia Benitez Morales.

Williams had been under suspicion since the Sheriff’s Office began investigating the murder.

News-Argus Video Report

But actually tying Williams to the crime scene proved difficult, Sheriff Carey Winders and detectives said.

Now, Williams is being held without privilege of bond in the Wayne County jail on one count of first-degree murder, authorities said.

A high-ranking authority familiar with the case said Williams’ alleged motive was to steal valuables or cash from his victim.

When police found Mrs. Morales dead in her home of gunshot wounds, they soon discovered her 3-year-old son was the only witness.

It made investigation difficult, because the boy was not able to talk to deputies.

Williams reportedly did not talk much with deputies before Friday of last week, when Detective Sgt. Tammy Odom and Detective Lt. Carl Lancaster interviewed him.

The interview at the Sheriff’s annex building on U.S. 117 was unique — it was the first one that Winders’ office had to record on film.

A new state law that took effect this year makes it mandatory to audiotape murder interrogations. County officials decided to just go straight to videotape, instead of audio, to insulate themselves against new laws in the future.

Detectives would not say what evidence they had linking Williams to the crime, only that the case “broke” on Friday night.

“We are still currently investigating this matter, tying up some loose ends, so to speak, and will continue to do so,” the sheriff said.

One detail detectives were willing to share was that Winders himself came up with the interview technique used to implicate Williams.

“The strategy we used in the case — I’d like to thank Sheriff Carey Winders for that,” Lancaster said.

Odom said she also wanted to extend thanks to the community and to the media, who she said “did not give up on the case.”

“There’s been a lot of help in the community,” Odom said.

However, reward money totaling $11,000 has not thus far been paid out, detectives said, because they were able to solve the case without aid from citizen tips.

One Wayne County citizen who asked to remain anonymous pledged $5,000 to anyone with information leading to the arrest of Mrs. Morales’ killer.

Odom said the family had been notified of the arrest as of Saturday.

The family no longer lives at the home where the crime took place, Odom said.

“They did have to move somewhere else, because of obvious reasons,” Odom said.

Winders said “not a day went by” when detectives did not brainstorm about how to solve the case.

“It’s been a stressful time to work — it’s a case that’s affected all of us.

“Especially when you have a mother there with a child. It’s been a tough case to work, and I’m just as proud as I can be of all of our detective division,” Winders said.

Mrs. Morales is survived by her son, a daughter and her husband, authorities have said.

The Morales family and Williams both lived in the rural area along N.C. 222, between Fremont and Eureka in northern Wayne County.