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Ex-boyfriend faces murder charge in Charlotte woman’s death

By Steve Lyttle and Jonathan McFadden
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com jmcfadden@heraldonline.com

Police say a man who was seriously injured in a South Carolina collision Monday morning was responsible for the death of his girlfriend the previous night in southwest Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg detectives said Jimmy Wayne Estes faces a murder charge in the death of 52-year-old Frances Harley Gutnick, whose body was discovered by her daughter at about 11 p.m. Sunday at a residence in the 700 block of Buckland Road.

Detectives said Gutnick and Estes were in a relationship when the assault occurred.

Kelsey Gutnick, 18, said said her mother wanted to end the nearly six-month relationship with Estes.

“She had talked to me and said that she didn’t want to be with him,” Gutnick said of her mother. “She was trying to break it off with him, just never fully did it.”

Estes, 51, of Fort Mill, suffered life-threatening injuries Monday afternoon when the vehicle he was driving crashed into a truck on U.S. 21 near Fort Mill.

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said investigators believe Estes was trying to commit suicide when he slammed into the truck.

The wreck was reported about 2:30 p.m. Bruce Byrnes, deputy chief of the Flint Hill Fire Department, said a four-door Lexus collided with a scrap metal container truck, knocking the truck on its side. A small fire broke out in the Lexus but was quickly extinguished, Byrnes said.

Estes, who suffered a serious head injury and broken bones, was hospitalized in Charlotte. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said he will be charged when released from the hospital.

Police said Gutnick’s body was discovered in her home, on a private road that leads from Buckland Road to the Catawba River. Investigators said Gutnick had been assaulted, but they did not give the cause of death.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call detectives at 704-432-TIPS, or leave the information with Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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