07/24/08 — Woman beaten to death

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Woman beaten to death

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on July 24, 2008 1:42 PM

DUDLEY -- About 12 hours before Herman Phillip Best turned himself in for the murder of his girlfriend, he paced with a flashlight in his front yard and burned trash, a neighbor said.

Best's flashlight-guided walk was at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, when he burned refuse in a barrel, as he was often seen doing, said Tiffany Warren, who lives across the street.

About 12 hours later, at 3 p.m., Best, 45, walked into the main branch of Wayne County Sheriff's Office and told a receptionist that he had severely beaten his girlfriend.

By 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday, detectives and Sheriff Carey Winders were at 114 Kevin Drive -- the home of Martha Cook Carter, 45, -- where they found a gruesome scene. Ms. Carter had been beaten to death.

"It was some type of physical assault," Detec-tive Lt. Shawn Harris said. "I know apparently no firearm was used -- I can say that."

Herman Phillips Best

Herman Phillip Best

Harris said the investigation had not yet revealed exactly what time Best allegedly killed Ms. Carter.

Nearby neighbors described Best as "quiet" and "somewhat strange," a man who had a seemingly far-fetched dream of entering his truck in a Daytona truck race.

"We just kind of took it (the Daytona truck dream) as being odd," said a next-door neighbor who asked not to be identified.

Her 2-year-old son often waved at Ms. Carter, who drove a light-blue, 18-wheeler cab for Beverage Transporta-tion Inc. of Thomasville, Pa.

"She (Ms. Carter) loved him (the 2-year-old), because he loved big trucks," the next-door neighbor said. "She hadn't lived here maybe a year, drove the truck at night. Whenever I saw her, she'd wave.

"My son just called her 'the blue truck, the lady that drove the big blue truck,'" the 2-year-old's grandmother said.