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Woman accused of killing dentist

A preliminary autopsy shows that a prominent Salisbury dentist – found tied to a bed in his home – was strangled shortly after returning from a family vacation, Salisbury police said late Friday.

A co-worker found the body of 47-year-old Dr. James David Boyd Thursday morning after he didn't arrive at his Salisbury office.

He'd returned to Salisbury on Tuesday from a beach trip with his wife and three children, but he didn't attend a monthly gathering with friends Wednesday night.

Investigators on Thursday night arrested 23-year-old Candice Jo Drye and charged her with murder. The mother of three, police say, was the last person to see Boyd alive.

The nature of their relationship is unclear. Police only described her as an “acquaintance” and confirmed she is not a family friend.

The suspect's stepmother told the Observer that Drye had been to the dentist's office before, and that Boyd had prescribed painkillers for her.

Officers on Friday guarded Boyd's property as investigators searched his office for evidence late into the evening. Investigators have not released a motive in Boyd's death – the second homicide in Salisbury this year.

Salisbury police Chief Mark Wilhelm said the dentist's feet were tied and his hands bound by an electrical cord tied to a bed in the master bedroom of his home near Salisbury Country Club.

The covers were pulled up to his chest and there were no apparent injuries, other than a scratch on his shoulder blade, Wilhelm said. The room was in disarray and some items appear to be missing from the three-story home. There were no signs of forced entry, he said.

The chief declined to provide more details about the homicide, he said, out of respect for Boyd's family.

Irene Cruse, Drye's stepmother, told the Observer that her stepdaughter was with Boyd Wednesday night. They had met at his office, she said, and went to his home to have drinks. She said she got a call from Boyd about 10 p.m., asking Cruse and her husband to come get Drye, who had been drinking. Neither could go pick her up, Cruse said.

“That's the last we heard that night,” Cruse said.

She wasn't sure how long Drye has known Boyd, only that her stepdaughter had gone to his office several times and Boyd had written her a prescription for pain medication. She was not a dental patient to her knowledge, she said.

Boyd, a Charlotte native, had been practicing dentistry in Salisbury since graduating from UNC Chapel Hill dental school in 1986. His license is in good standing with the state board of dental examiners and he has no criminal history, according to public records.

The police chief said he was unaware of any calls for service from his department to Boyd's home or any complaints about the dentist. His wife is also a dentist with an office next door. The couple have three children – a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old twin boys. Neighbors and others who know the couple described the family as “lovely.” One neighbor in the golf course neighborhood said Boyd was “well-known and well-liked.”

Drye, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to driving while impaired, has three kids – a 7-month-old, and a 2- and 3-year-old, her stepmother said. She wasn't working outside the home at the time of her arrest, Cruse said.

In a videotaped court appearance Friday, Drye sobbed as a judge asked her if she understood the charge. With bruised forearms, she cradled her head in her hands, and then asked a judge for bond. She cried again when her request was denied.

“I feel very, very terrible this happened,” said Cruse, who said she can't believe the charges against Drye. “I feel very much for his family – it's tough on both sides.” Staff Researcher Maria Wygand contributed.

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