Byrd sentenced to life without parole
BAKERSVILLE – A Mitchell County man will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to murdering two women and burning their remains in the fall of 2015.
Cecil Scott Byrd plead guilty this past Friday at the Mitchell County Courthouse to two counts of first-degree murder for killing 49-year-old Lisa Ann Robbins, of Deep Gap, and 45-year-old Sarah Denise Riddle, of Marion. Superior Court Judge R. Gregory Horne sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole for each count.
“This is truly a tragic case for the victims’ families,” said Seth Banks, district attorney. “We are thankful that we could bring some degree of closure for these families at an early stage in this process. With this sentence, we have insured that Cecil Scott Byrd will never again be able to harm anyone in our community.”
Banks told the court Robbins’ family wanted people to know “what a beautiful person” she was. Riddle’s mother, Linda Wolfe, told the court her daughter was “a loving person” and a “beautiful woman.”
Prosecutors had previously stated their intent to seek the death penalty for Byrd.
But Banks told the judge the victims’ families wanted the case resolved and were content with the plea.
Byrd answered questions from the judge wearing an orange jumpsuit and his hands and feet shackled. He sat quietly with his head bent down slightly as details of the case were described.
Banks told the court sometime in late September or early October of 2015, Byrd lured Robbins, who had been living with him at his home on Bad Creek Road north of Red Hill, into his basement and shot her with a small-caliber rifle. Byrd later told investigators he wrapped her body in plastic and stored the remains in a freezer at another property on Bad Creek Road.
After Robbins’ family became concerned about her whereabouts, they insisted to Byrd he file a missing person report, which he did on Oct. 23, 2015. Robbins’ family told police they had not seen or heard from her in about three weeks. Byrd told police Robbins had left his home with someone around Oct. 1.
Sometime after Robbins was killed, Riddle came to stay with Byrd. Byrd lured Riddle into his basement around Oct. 21 or 22 where a struggle ensured. Banks said Byrd told police he struck Riddle in the head with a hammer and choked her before shooting her with a shotgun.
Byrd burned her body in his yard. He put the remains in a trash bag and dumped it at the Red Hill convenience center.
Investigators searched Byrd’s home Oct. 28 in connection to Robbins’ disappearance. They noted the basement smelled of bleach and was freshly painted. Byrd told investigators he was trying to get rid of mold and he didn’t know where Robbins was.
Byrd later told investigators after his home was searched he went to his other house where he had stored Robbins’ remains, took the body to the backyard and burned it – investigators found evidence of burn piles along with bone fragments on Byrd’s properties. He put Robbins’ remains in the back of his truck and drove on N.C. 226 toward Tennessee.
Banks told the court Byrd’s mother, Patsy, and his young daughter, who was around 7 years old at the time, were with him in the car. Before they got to the state line, the truck bed caught fire. They stopped and dumped the remains along the highway – investigators later found human remains in the area.
Riddle was reported missing in McDowell County Nov. 1 by her boyfriend. Her boyfriend told police Byrd said Riddle was causing problems and he “had to get rid of her,” according to a search warrant.
Byrd was arrested Nov. 4 after being charged with identity theft in McDowell County for using Riddle’s EBT card. He admitted to killing Riddle while being interrogated. The following day he was charged with Robbins’ murder.
Byrd’s attorneys told the court he has for years suffered from depression, anxiety and problems with substance abuse issues; he has attempted suicide multiple times. He spent six years in prison after being convicted of embezzlement in 2008. His attorneys noted before murdering Robbins and Riddle, Byrd had no record of violence toward others.
In the days leading up to Robbins’ murder, Byrd’s attorneys said he did not sleep and was constantly using drugs.
Patsy Byrd is charged with accessory after the fact to murder. Her case is ongoing.