SP Man Faces Charges in Alley Death
A Southern Pines man faces a murder charge in the beating death of a woman who had apparently accosted him in a downtown alley, blaming him for her daughter’s suicide.
Southern Pines Police on Thursday arrested Garland Scott Beal, 49, and charged him with the murder of Terry Lynn Baker, 50, of Pinehurst.
Several witnesses who asked that their names not be used said they heard Baker yell at Beal and blame him for the death of her daughter, Rebecca Baker.
Another witness, Robert Dant, said he didn’t hear Baker blame Beal for the death, but he did hear Beal deny the claim.
“I heard him saying something to the effect of I had nothing to do with your daughter’s suicide,” Dant said.
Dant, who had been downtown playing tennis with his wife, said he raced to the alley when he saw a man “stomping the hell” out of a woman just before police arrived.
Police Chief John Letteney said Beal and Baker knew each other, but officers haven’t divulged the nature of the acquaintanceship.
He said police are still investigating the incident and wouldn’t comment on whether Baker blamed Beal or not.
“I know that after her daughter’s suicide, she has blamed others for her daughter’s death,” Letteney said. “That can be taken in one of many ways. No one else was involved in her daughter’s death. It was a suicide.
“We believe she was blaming others for creating a situation in which her daughter felt there was no way out and took her own life.”
Police said Baker and another woman, identified as a close friend or relative, were on the way to Powell Funeral Home to prepare for her daughter’s wake at the time of the incident.
Rebecca Baker, 19, died Tuesday. At 10:08 a.m. that day, she had posted on her Facebook page: “Last words. Please forgive me for what I have done.”
In another post dated 11:41 p.m. Monday, Baker had written: “10-23-10 may my presence forever be with you time for a better place for me to go to rest.”
Under that post, Terry Baker responded at 9:28 a.m. Tuesday, posting, “Please call me .... asap.”
Police were called to Beal’s residence at 141 E. Pennsylvania Ave. in Southern Pines at 1:15 p.m. after a report of an assault in progress.
Letteney said officers found Terry Baker on the ground when they arrived at the location, which is in the alley between Pennsylvania and New Hampshire avenues.
According to a release from the police department, there had been an argument and, at some point during the altercation, both the suspect and victim were armed. A knife and pole were seized by investigators.
Baker was struck with the pole and fell to the ground, and the suspect continued to assault her until he was pushed away by bystanders, the release said. The cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner after an autopsy.
The victim received treatment at the scene, but later died.
Dant, 62, a retired police officer from Washington D.C., said he heard two women shouting obscenities “at the back of a building.” He said he continued playing tennis, and the noise escalated, until he eventually heard a male voice.
“I looked up again, up the alley, and there was a guy standing over a woman, kicking and stomping,” he said.
Dant said he grabbed his cell phone, told his wife to call 911 and raced toward the alley.
Two other young men followed him, he said.
“By the time we got there, the guy they (police) took away in cuffs was being pulled away by a friend of his,” Dant said. “The woman, her head was on the curb and her torso was coming off the curb in the alley. She was totally unconscious. She may have even been dead.”
A 17-year-old Pinehurst resident, who asked not to be identified, said he and a friend were playing basketball in the downtown Southern Pines park when they heard raised voices.
He and his friend saw a man run from the tennis courts to the alley and followed him.
“I saw a woman on the ground, and the man kicked her one time in the head and walked away,” the youth said.
He said the man had a stick in his hand when he kicked her. He described the stick as a wooden object similar to a broom handle. He said the man dropped the object when he walked away from the woman.
“It was something I wish I didn’t see,” he said.
Dant said he didn’t see anyone wielding a knife, but he did see a “pocket knife” behind a rear wheel of a vehicle parked in the alley. He said another person used a rag to pick up the knife and put it off to the side.
Dant said the woman’s friend tried to lift her up, and then Beal kicked the victim again. Dant said he pushed Beal away, and told him there wouldn’t be any more of that.
Dant said Beal replied, “I don’t care if it’s a woman, if you come around my house and pull a knife on me, I am going to beat your ass.”
When asked if he had seen the woman use the knife to attack the man in any way, Dant said, “All I seen him doing is stomping the hell out of her. I never saw her doing anything offensively other than cussing.”
Beal has a history of assault crimes, according to the N.C. Department of Corrections.
In 2007, the state Court of Appeals granted Beal a new trial after he had been convicited in 2005 of asault with a deadly weapon for hitting a man with a machete while being threatened with a pitchfork.
That incident occurred in 2004 in Lee County. Beal also served 16 months in jail for a 2000 conviction for felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury in Lee County.
Southern Pines police also arrested Beal on Aug. 19 and charged him with aggravated assault, larceny from a building and driving while impaired.
According to the police report, Beal allegedly struck a victim with a moped and took two T-bone steaks from Bo’s Food Store, 750 SW Broad St. Police arrest records listed his trial date as Sept. 14.
On the evening after the Tuesday incident, police officers arrested two individuals outside Powell Funeral Home during Rebecca Baker’s wake.
Letteney said officers were called to the funeral home at about 7:30 p.m. for a report of a suspicious person.
Officers arrested Dustin Euston, 22, of Aberdeen, and charged him with resisting an officer when he ran from officers after exiting the funeral home. They also arrested Timmy Locklear, 20, of Eagle Springs, and charged him with disorderly conduct and using profane language in public.
After Thursday’s incident, officers blocked the alley with crime scene tape, and police and emergency vehicles blocked Pennsylvania at the intersection of Ashe and Broad streets for several hours before reopening the road at 4 p.m.
Bystanders gathered across the street from the alley in a grassy area near the downtown tennis courts. As police officers led Beal away from the scene in handcuffs, some bystanders shouted derogatory remarks at him.
One witness, who cited the continuing investigation as a reason not to give her name or comment on specifics of the incident in the alley, said she hopes there will be no more violence.
“This is devastating,” the witness said. “We are still in shock, and our hearts go out to all the victims — and there are a lot of victims.”
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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