[cifnmedia] North Carolina Fire Chief's Wife Charged In Murder

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2004 21:19:53 -0700 (PDT)

Updated: 04-02-2004 03:23:37 PM

North Carolina Fire Chief's Wife Charged In Murder

Courtesy of The Hedersonville Times News 

HORSE SHOE -- The wife of a man found dead near the couple's residence was 
charged Thursday morning with her husband's murder, and police suspect a second 
person in connection with the crime. 

Gail Christine Hutchinson Gash, 50, was charged with first-degree murder a day 
after police found her hiding beneath a shed across the street from where her 
husband's body was found Saturday. 

She is the wife of Etowah-Horse Shoe Fire Chief Donald Larry Gash, whose 
remains were found near the couple's home at 383 S. Rugby Road. 

Henderson County Sheriff George H. Erwin Jr. declined to comment on whether 
more charges will be filed in the case but he said the crime likely was 
committed by more than one person. 

"We are relentlessly pursuing other evidence," Erwin said. "There is a suspect 
out there. ... They know who they are and we know who they are. We will 
relentlessly pursue them." 

Investigators think that Mr. Gash was killed inside his home but have not found 
a murder weapon, he said. 

Officers who searched the residence Saturday found Mr. Gash's remains in a 
plastic storage container near a barn behind his home, according to a search 
warrant filed Monday at the Clerk of Courts Office. Investigators lifted five 
finger or hand prints from the container, according to the warrant. 

Investigators also found a blood-stained mattress, bloodstains on the back door 
and on a wall in the house and a bloodstained sheet, tarp and rope that had 
been burned, according to the search warrant. 

They seized two computers from the home, which were sent to the Secret Service 
office in Charlotte to have the hard drives examined, Erwin said. He did not 
say what investigators expected to find on the computers. 

Warrant served Thursday 

Police issued an arrest warrant for Mrs. Gash late Wednesday night after a 
meeting between investigators and members of the district attorney's office, 
Erwin said. 

"It was a mutual decision to go ahead and charge her," he said. 

Erwin said that Mrs. Gash will be placed in the county jail under no bond once 
she is released from Pardee Hospital. She was taken to the hospital Wednesday 
for treatment of exposure to the elements. Mrs. Gash is listed in fair 
condition and likely will remain in the hospital overnight, a hospital 
spokeswoman said. 

Sheriff's deputies guarded Mrs. Gash's hospital room Wednesday and Thursday, 
but she was not under a suicide watch, Erwin said. 

Investigators had been searching for Mrs. Gash since she was reported missing 
Saturday morning by her son, 31-year-old Donald Edward Gash, who also lived at 
the South Rugby Road residence. Investigators found her at about 3 p.m. 
Wednesday, shivering in a crawl space beneath a carport at 422 S. Rugby Road, 
across the road from her home. 

Erwin said that Mrs. Gash was "startled" when police found her but that she 
cooperated with rescue workers. Investigators have not questioned Mrs. Gash, 
who showed no emotion when officers arrested her, he said. 

"She hasn't said a whole lot," Erwin said. "She's been very quiet." 

Preliminary autopsy results found that Mr. Gash, 48, died from blunt force 
trauma to the head. Investigators also found severed human limbs Monday along 
the Blue Ridge Parkway in Buncombe County that preliminary results confirm are 
Mr. Gash's. Investigators have recovered all of the man's remains, and a full 
autopsy report will be available at a later date. 

Second search warrant 

Investigators returned to the Gash residence Thursday morning to execute a 
second search warrant. 

Sheriff's Department Detective Lt. Erik Summey declined to comment on what 
items they hoped to find, adding that the case is not closed and that 
detectives are still looking into leads. 

Thursday afternoon, investigators slowly walked through the pasture surrounding 
the Gash's home, using slender metal police batons to push aside tall grass. 

Two bundles of carnations lay near the fence at the edge of the property 
bordering the road. The family lived on 22 acres that Mr. Gash inherited from 
his father, Lantie W. Gash, who died June 23, 1976. The property has an 
appraised value of $225,400, according to land deed records. 

Clerk of Court Tommy Thompson appointed Hendersonville attorney E.K. Morley to 
be the "collector" of Mr. Gash's assets for protection, Morley said Thursday. 

"The sheriff has not really turned the premises over to us to take possession; 
we would only be taking possession of personal property, not real property in 
any event," he said. "When there is a possible jeopardy situation, there is a 
provision in the general statues where the court can appoint a person to take 
immediate possession of the property of the decedent. Normally, if there was a 
will, we would have to follow the instruction of the will, which means giving 
the right to serve as executor to whoever is named in the document. 

But we haven't found a will, of course, so the Clerk of Court or ex officio 
judge of probate has appointed me as collector to take immediate possession of 
the personal property of the estate." 

Mr. Gash's relatives have the right to make application for letters of 
administration, Morley said. This means that if the clerk granted the request, 
that person would become administrator of the estate and Morley would be 
relieved of his duties as collector, he said. 

Morley said he did not know the total worth of all of Gash's assets. 

Mr. Gash's wife and his son are listed as potential beneficiaries of his 
estate, according to estate files on record at the courthouse. The Gashes' 
daughter was not named as a potential beneficiary, according to estate files. 
There was no explanation as to why her name was not listed. 


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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