Source: Dentist was focus of probe

The SBI this month began investigating allegations that Dr. James David Boyd – a Salisbury dentist found slain in his home – was illegally distributing painkillers to patients, a source with knowledge of the investigation told the Observer.

A co-worker found Boyd's body Thursday morning after he failed to arrive at his office. A preliminary autopsy shows the prominent dentist – found tied to a bed – was strangled.

A State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Saturday said she could not confirm the agency's investigation into Boyd's prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone. But one relative of Candice Jo Drye, the suspect charged in the dentist's killing, says Boyd had written numerous prescriptions for the drug to her and possibly others.

It is unclear what prompted the SBI probe, which began a couple of weeks ago, the Observer's source said. Salisbury police say they weren't aware of any complaints about Boyd through their office. The 47-year-old dentist had no criminal history and was in good standing with the N.C. Board of Dental Examiners.

Drye pleaded guilty to a driving while impaired charge June 5.

Salisbury police Chief Mark Wilhelm on Saturday declined to confirm Drye's story or elaborate on what she told investigators. Drye, a 23-year-old mother of three, was the last person to see the dentist alive, police said. And the nature of their relationship is unclear. Police described her as only an “acquaintance” and confirmed she is not a family friend.

Irene Cruse, Drye's stepmother, told the Observer that her stepdaughter was not a patient of Boyd's, though she had gone to his office several times. And she was with the dentist Wednesday night, Cruse said. They had met at his office, she said, and went to his home for drinks. Cruse said she got a call from Boyd about 10 p.m., asking her and her husband to come get Drye, who had been drinking. Neither could go pick her up, Cruse said. Drye's boyfriend's mother finally collected her, she said.

“She is not a bad person at all,” said Cruse. She told the Observer she didn't think her daughter killed Boyd.

Boyd had returned home by himself Tuesday from a beach trip with his wife and three children. He didn't attend a monthly gathering with friends Wednesday night and was found dead the next morning.

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.

Investigators, who finished searching Boyd's home and office late Friday, are awaiting toxicology results from his autopsy.

Police are still investigating whether anyone else is involved in Boyd's death, Wilhelm said.

Boyd, a Charlotte native, had been practicing dentistry in Salisbury since graduating from UNC Chapel Hill dental school in 1986. His wife is also a dentist. The couple have three children – a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old twin boys.

Boyd, who coached numerous basketball and soccer teams, was described by relatives as a “devoted father and coach.” Staff researcher Maria Wygand contributed.