Nov 2, 2011 posted by: Mari Lou-WGMD News
UPDATED STORY by Kelli Steele 02.27.12: The trial for a 43-year-old Millsboro man accused of raping and then killing an elderly Millsboro woman in her Barkantine Drive home last October has been scheduled for April 2013.
Michael Purnell’s attorney Stephanie Tsantes entered a plea of not guilty for her client in Sussex County Superior Court Friday.
Purnell, who is a registered sex offender, has admitted to raping 70-year-old Dorothy Gudger and then strangling her with a belt on Halloween night 2011.
Gudger’s neighbor’s found her body two days later when they went into her house looking for her because they hadn’t seen her in a few days.
UPDATE by ML – 3:pm – During a preliminary hearing this morning in the Court of Common Pleas, sufficient evidence was presented to bind 43 year old Michael Purnell over to Superior Court. Purnell is charged in the rape and murder of an elderly Millsboro woman, in her Oak Orchard area home in early November. Police say Purnell admitted to raping 70 year old Dorothy Gudger and strangling her with a belt. Gudger’s body was found on November 3rd on the floor in her home after neighbors worried because they hadn’t seen her in several days.
UPDATE by Kelli Steele 11.23.11: 43-year-old Michael Purnell, the man charged in the rape and murder of an elderly Millsboro woman earlier this month, will be in Sussex County Court of Common Pleas this morning for a preliminary hearing.
Purnell was arrested Nov. 3 and charged with killing Dorothy Gudger on Halloween night in her Barkantine Drive home near Oak Orchard.
Purnell faces one count of 1st degree murder, one count of 1st degree rape, two counts of possession of a deadly weapon and one count of 1st degree burglary; police say Purnell admitted that he raped Gudger and then killed her by strangling her with a belt.
BREAKING & UPDATED by Kelli Steele 11.03.11: That 70-year-old Millsboro woman found dead in her Barkantine Drive home Wednesday afternoon was raped and murdered.
Delaware State Police now say they’ve arrested 43-year-old Michael Purnell in connection with the murder of Dorothy Gudger.
Police say the woman’s neighbors told officers they hadn’t seen her leave her house for several days, so they called 9-1-1 Wednesday afternoon.
Police had to force there way into the home when no one answered the door; they found Gudger dead on the floor.
Further investigation revealed that Purnell, also of Millsboro, had recently been seen doing odd jobs for Gudger at her home; Purnell is also a registered Tier II sex offender.
He was arrested around 7:30 Wednesday night and charged with 1st degree murder, 1st degree rape, 1st degree burglary and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.
He’s being held without bail at SCI.
ORIGINAL STORY: Police are investigating a suspicious death in the Oak Orchard area.
Police say they were called to a Barkantine Drive home Wednesday by neighbors who hadn’t seen the 70-year-old woman who lives in the home in several days.
After police got no response at the door, they went inside where they found the woman on the floor.
The victim’s body has been turned over to the State Medical Examiner to determine the exact cause of death.
The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.
DSP News Release: Troopers Investigating Suspicious Death in Millsboro
Location: Residence located in the 27000 block of Barkantine Drive, Millsboro, DE
Date of Occurrence: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.
Victim: 70 year old female resident
Millsboro, DE- The Delaware State Police are currently investigating the suspicious death of a 70 year old female in Millsboro, DE.
The investigation into this incident began at approximately 2:48 p.m. today after Troopers were called to a residence located in the 27000 block of Barkantine Drive in Millsboro. Concerned neighborhood residents had called the 9-1-1 call center after they had not seen the female homeowner for several days. Upon arriving at the residence, Troopers attempted to make contact with the homeowner, however, received no response. They then made entry into the home at which time they found the 70 year old female homeowner laying on the floor of the residence deceased. The victim’s body was turned over to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner where an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
This incident is being investigated as a suspicious death at this time. The name of the victim is being withheld pending the notification of the next of kin.
More complete information will be released at a later time.