N.C. officials probe Carter lead in frozen woman's death

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF

   Mitchell County, N.C. Sheriff's Department is investigating a lead in the death of a woman whose frozen body was found Aug. 24 on Roan Mountain. The tip could lead them to Carter County, according to Lt. Shannon Smith of Mitchell County.
   "A phone call came in from Georgia from a girl who used to work at the prison (in Roan Mountain). She remembered a lady who had Alzheimer's who lived in the area," Lt. Smith said. The woman reportedly matched the description of the body which was found by a couple who were out taking pictures near Carver's Gap.
   Smith said his office is investigating whether that woman is still living. "We're running down every call that comes in," he said.
   Because there were no signs of foul play, Smith said authorities believe she probably died from natural causes and then someone put her in a freezer and kept her death quiet so that they could collect her Social Security check for awhile.
   Mitchell County authorities released an artist's rendering of the woman last week in hopes someone would see the sketch, recognize the woman and identify her. Authorities commissioned the sketch after working the case for a month without any concrete leads.
   The woman is described as 5 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing 133 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair peppered with gray. She had a large age spot on the left side of her forehead and had undergone three major surgeries.
   The woman's body apparently had been kept in a freezer before being dumped at an overlook on the North Carolina side of the Roan.
   According to Carter County Sheriff John Henson the woman was wrapped in a sheet and bed blanket and was wearing nothing but a blue-flowered nightgown.
   Tracks at the scene led investigators to believe the body came from the Tennessee side of the mountain.
   Persons with information are asked to contact Mitchell County authorities at (828) 688-3982 or Sheriff Henson at 542-1845.