In July 2016, the quiet neighborhood of Tree Top Drive in Buncombe County, North Carolina, was shocked by the murder of Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon. The well-known doctor was found shot in his home while his wife, Brenda, called 911. But as the authorities dug deeper, it seemed like all fingers pointed at Brenda. NBC News’ ‘Dateline: The Day the Music Died’ chronicles the reasons behind Buddy’s death and what happened to Brenda after. So, let’s find out more about this case then, shall we?
How Did Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon Die?
Buddy was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and went to medical school at the University of Arkansas. After graduating in 1978, Buddy completed residencies in two places. At the time of the incident, he was a cosmetic surgeon in Asheville, North Carolina, and lived with his wife, Brenda. The 64-year-old was a great musician who played multiple instruments. Apart from that, he was close to his family and was keen on Civil War and US History.
At around 3:30 AM on July 16, 2016, Brenda heard a loud noise from downstairs at their home in Buncombe County and went to check. At the time, Buddy had been sleeping on the couch in the living room while Brenda slept in the upstairs bedroom. She found her husband shot once in the head, leading her to call 911. First responders arrived within minutes and found Buddy dead. The murder weapon was later found in the rows of ivy in the yard.
Who Killed Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon?
Brenda stated during the 911 call that the backdoor was open because Buddy didn’t lock it. She believed that an intruder came in, shot him, and fled the scene. However, no evidence pointed to the presence of someone else in the house. So, the authorities began looking at Brenda and her relationship with Buddy. They learned that she also worked at Buddy’s practice as the office manager and took care of the accounting.
The couple was being investigated by the Department of Revenue for possible embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense. Brenda had known about it since at least July 11, 2016, since the authorities spoke to her and Buddy at the office on that day. They were looking for the records on tax returns and employee payroll reports. Then, at a storage facility that Brenda rented, the police found several boxes labeled “personal taxes” and “insurance claims.” She had talked to a shredding company to destroy the contents of about 40 boxes on July 27, 2016.
Furthermore, Brenda sold the family home and moved to Tennessee in the aftermath of the murder. While she claimed to have nothing to do with Buddy’s death, the authorities thought otherwise. During the investigation, it came to light that Buddy had been having affairs throughout their marriage, including with two nurses at the practice. The prosecution stated that Brenda killed Buddy because she didn’t want him to know that she hadn’t been paying payroll taxes.
According to the prosecution, Brenda feared Buddy would divorce her. They believed something happened on July 15, 2016; it could have been a conversation regarding the financials, or Brenda found out about the affairs. Ultimately, despite no physical evidence tying Brenda to the murder, she was convicted of killing her husband and, in February 2021, received a life sentence.
Read More: Where is Brenda McCutcheon Now?