Clinton police have determined there was no foul play in the Thursday night death of a 69-year Johnson Street woman, found by investigators and family members after authorities were called to conduct a welfare check just after 5 p.m.
“The autopsy has confirmed what we thought after our initial investigation,” Clinton police Chief Jay Tilley said Saturday. “We treated this like a suspicious death because of the nature of the home when we found her body, but after a thorough investigation and a confirmation from the medical examiner, we are confident this was a natural death.
Police and State Bureau of Investigation agents have treated the death of Peggy J. Faircloth as suspicious ever since receiving the call to conduct the welfare check at her 105 Johnson St. home, but Tilley said there was clear evidence at the residence that led them to suspect no foul play early on in the probe.
“At first glance, things looked suspicious,” Tillley said, noting that it appeared things had been disturbed in the house. “But there had been no forced entry into the home, and while the home appeared to be in a disruptive nature, we could find no physical evidence of trauma to the deceased.”
Still, Tilley said investigators preceded with caution. “We had to treat this like a homicide until we were certain it was not. Had we done it any other way, we would have lost valuable time in the investigative process.”
The autopsy, however, confirmed what the investigation was leading officers to suspect.
Medical examiner Dr. Carl Barr said Saturday that his findings showed no evidence of trauma, giving him every reason to believe Faircloth had died from natural causes, brought on by what he called extensive medical problems.
“There was no sexual assault and no trauma. There was some bruises, but they were minor abrasions and not recent,” Dr. Barr explained.
Dr. Barr said he believed Faircloth was in some type of “diabetic crisis,” prior to her death, a condition he was nearly certain led to a panicked state which, in turn, would explain the disruptive state her home appeared to be in. “Her sugar level was very high, which convinced me that’s what led to the panicked state I believe she must have been in prior to her death.”
Tilley said based on the evidence gathered by officers and Dr. Barr’s findings, he was convinced no foul play was involved.
Thursday night, police surrounded the Johnson Street area, as well as portions of McKoy and Giddens streets while investigators gathered evidence at the home. Mayor Lew Starling, along with city manager John Connet and councilman Steve Stefanovich were also at the scene.
“I got the call from Mr. Connet and within 15-20 minutes I was there along with Mr. Stefanovich and Mr. Connet. We kept the council apprised of what was going on, as well,” Starling said Saturday. “We all just wanted to get to the bottom of it and we were ready to expend whatever resources necessary to ensure we did just that.”
Starling offered his thanks to Clinton police, SBI agents, Superior Court Judge Doug Parsons and Dr. Barr for their diligence in the investigation. “I really can’t thank them enough for the way they handled this investigation. They did a thorough and complete job from start to finish on this investigation.”