During the early hours one morning in July 2016, Brenda McCutcheon claimed to have awoken to a loud noise only to find her husband, Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon, dead in their living room. The distraught wife soon became the prime suspect as the investigators pushed to solve the case. NBC News’ ‘Dateline: The Day the Music Died’ delves into a heavily circumstantial case that ended with Brenda’s conviction. So, if you’re wondering how that happened, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Brenda McCutcheon?
Buddy and Brenda were married for more than three decades by the time he was killed. On July 15, 2016, Buddy fell asleep on the couch in the living room at around 9:30 PM. Brenda stated that she slept in the upstairs bedroom at about 11 PM. According to her, Buddy usually slept on the couch because he snored and couldn’t sleep without the TV on. Somewhere close to 3:30 AM on July 16, Brenda heard a loud noise from downstairs and went to check. She smelled gun powder upon entering the living room and knew Buddy was shot.
Brenda claimed that she ran to the neighbors’ house for help, but nobody answered the door. So, she came back home instead and called 911 using her phone. After the authorities arrived, they found a silver gun tossed in the rows of ivy out in the yard. This was confirmed to be the murder weapon and was owned by Buddy. Brenda later testified that it was usually kept in the kitchen drawer. However, evidence showed that the drawer was too full to store a firearm.
There were no fingerprints on the weapon, but the police found a mixture of DNA. While Buddy was the major contributor, two other minor profiles could not be identified. As for Brenda, she had no blood or gunshot residue on her clothing save for a small particle on her shirt. The investigators then looked more closely at Brenda since it didn’t seem like an intruder had attacked Buddy.
Brenda worked at Buddy’s medical practice as the office manager in addition to handling the books. Investigation revealed that the couple was questioned by the Department of Revenue just a few days prior and were being looked at for embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense. Brenda, in charge of the accounting, failed to pay taxes from employee paychecks; this was considered embezzlement. In addition, she tried to have some documentation destroyed in the days after the murder.
Where is Brenda McCutcheon Now?
The prosecution claimed that Brenda let Buddy’s struggling practice take precedence over her own career as a nurse; she helped out at the office. While she tried to take care of the taxes and payroll, the finances “quickly became a mess.” Furthermore, testimony revealed that Buddy was unfaithful, with the prosecution contending that Brenda might have found out about it.
On the other hand, the defense reiterated that no physical evidence connected Brend to the murder. They stated that Buddy knew about the tax situation for years and chose not to pay. Brenda’s lawyer added that it could have been an intruder since the back door was open. However, the jury sided with the prosecution and found her guilty of first-degree murder. In February 2021, then 69 years old, Brenda was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Records indicate that she remains incarcerated at Anson Correctional Institution in Polkton, North Carolina.
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