Woman arrested in death of mother whose frozen body was found two years ago

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested a Washington County woman and charged her in connection with the death of her mother two years ago.
Linda Diane Fenley, age 45, no address available, has been charged with reckless homicide, theft of property over $10,000 and theft of property over $1,000.
The body of 88-year-old Myrtle McFall, Fenley's mother, was found on Aug. 23 in 2001 by a hiker near Carvers Gap in the Cherokee National Forest, about a mile from the Tennessee line. Carvers Gap is located near the top of Roan Mountain.
The woman's body was found wrapped in blankets, and investigators at that time said the body had been frozen, possibly in a large household freezer, and then left near a small parking area.
Officers of the Mitchell County, North Carolina Sheriff's Department and agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation conducted an extensive investigation into the woman's death, though they were not able to identify her.
According to information released by the TBI, a positive identification of the body was not made until a year-and-a-half later in February 2003 when TBI Special Agent Frank McCauley received information from the Wise County, Virginia Sheriff's Office advising that relatives of McFall were concerned about her welfare. The family released McFall's medical records to the investigators which led to the identification of the body.
McFall, who was born in Pound, Virginia, had been living in different nursing homes in the Tri-Cities area over an extended period of time, according to information from the TBI. It was also reported that McFall had been living with Fenley before her death.
After the body was identified as McFall, agents from the TBI, agents from the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and agents from the United States Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General began to work on the investigation into McFall's death.
"It was a very difficult investigation," TBI Special Agent in Charge Bob Denney said. "Through the course of the investigation some facts were discovered that led to the daughter's arrest."
TBI agents presented the evidence they collected in the investigation to a Washington County Grand Jury last week. The Grand Jury returned a true bill against Fenley charging her with reckless homicide and theft charges.
According to Denney, Fenley was charged with theft over $10,000 because she had been collecting her mother's Social Security income check after her mother had been killed. The charge for theft over $1,000 stems from a theft of personal property, Denney said.
After the Grand Jury returned the true bill against Fenley, a capias/bench warrant was issued for her arrest. She was arrested Wednesday by TBI agents, an investigator from the Social Security Administration, and officers of the Jonesborough Police Department. She is currently being held in the Washington County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.