North Carolina

Mom went 577 miles to kill daughter’s ex over a child custody fight, NC sheriff says

A 56-year-old man was found dead in his trailer in 2016 — and his ex-girlfriend’s mother just admitted to the murder, police in North Carolina said Wednesday.

Phoebe Monroe was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. Her daughter, Katey Millican, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and was sentenced to six to eight years in prison.

“The mother, Phoebe Monroe, traveled from Alabama, to kill (Gary) Spitzer over a child custody issue,” police said.

Spitzer was found dead of a gunshot wound in a Pink Hill mobile home around 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2016, WITN reported. His 3-year-old daughter was believed to have been with the body.

Pink Hill is about 70 miles southeast of Raleigh — and more than 500 miles from where Millican and her mother reportedly lived near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Police arrested Millican — who was 24 at the time — and charged her with felony conspiracy to commit murder, WCTI reported.

According to WNCT, she found Spitzer’s body and called 911 on Nov. 9, 2016. She was up from Alabama to visit her daughter.

Law enforcement in Alabama later arrested Monroe and a third suspect, Eugene McDonald, according to the Tuscaloosa News. The pair were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, respectively.

McDonald pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obstruction of justice alongside Monroe and Millican this week, police said. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Spitzer lived at the trailer with his daughter after gaining temporary custody of her, WCTI reported. He and Millican were “in an ongoing custody battle,” according to the TV station.

Pink Hill Police Chief Joey Thigpen told WCTI in 2016 his murder was the first homicide the town of less than 550 people had in more than 10 years.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.