Knightdale murder victim's brother returned from Virginia

mhankerson@newsobserver.comOctober 24, 2013 

— Almost two weeks after discovering 55-year-old Seanne Winters Barnette’s body in her Legacy Oaks apartment, Knightdale police detectives took custody of her brother, John Wesley Winters, Jr. in Prince William County, Va.

He was brought to the Wake County Detention Center where he is being held on charges of vehicle larceny. His bond is set at $1.5 million.

Brian Bowman, Knightdale’s communications director, said Knightdale police have been working with the District Attorney to decide if Winters will be charged in connection to his sister’s death.

Bowman said it could take a few days before a decision is made about a charge.

Wake County’s District Attorney Colon Willoughby and assistant DA Howard Cummings have not returned calls for comment.

Knightdale Police are treating Barnette’s death as a murder, making it the second one ever reported in the town.

Winters, who is 70 years old, was found on Interstate 95 near Prince William County on Oct. 10.

Virginia police found Winters with injuries and an altered mental state, according to a search warrant issued to search Barnette’s vehicle and home.

Virginia police brought Winters to a hospital, where he was evaluated and then brought to Prince William County’s Adult Detention Center. The hospital contacted another family member, who asked Knightdale police to conduct a well-being check on Barnette on Oct. 12.

Police found Barnette in her home with dried blood on and around her body. She was covered with an American flag, the search warrant said.

A cause of death has not been released.

The next day, Winters was arrested on charges of vehicle theft. Until that time, he was in the hospital in Woodbridge, Va., in the northern part of the state.

Winters was living with Barnette at the time of her death, an arrangement that began after Barnette learned her brother was homeless, after being evicted from several homes, according to court records.

It is still unclear if Winters had any role in Barnette’s death.

The siblings are the children of John Winters, Sr., Raleigh’s first black member of city council. They also have a sister, Fran Carter, who currently resides in Marietta, Ga.

A family friend is planning to hold a vigil for Barnette on Oct. 31 at 126 Shannon Drive in Zebulon.

Anyone who knew Barnette or the Winters family is invited and it is requested guests bring their own candles.


Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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