Man charged with assault. kidnapping found dead

MCDOWELL COUNTY– A Spruce Pine man arrested June 1 after allegedly assaulting and kidnapping his girlfriend was found dead in his McDowell County jail cell Sunday.

Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street said David Shane Stafford, 42, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell sometime Sunday.

“I received a telephone call from the sheriff in McDowell (Sunday) around 6 p.m.,” Street said. “I had a deputy contact Stafford’s brother and had another deputy go to the hospital in Johnson City to notify the victim. I was concerned she was going to hear about it on the news first and I didn’t want that to happen.” 

Stafford was being held on a $1 million bond after allegedly severely beating his girlfriend and holding her at his residence. 

After Stafford fled the area, his girlfriend broke free from her arm restraints and crawled to the middle of the road where a passerby found her around 3 p.m. May 31.

The Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department, with the assistance of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, located and apprehended Stafford. Capt. Rick Wiseman of the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department said Stafford was found inside a mobile home in the Sugar Hill Community of McDowell County. 

“We got some information about where he was and decided to move on it,” Wiseman said. “We drove up to the trailer and the door was open. We could see him sitting inside. We yelled for him and for a second he acted like he was going to run.”

Ultimately, Stafford was taken into custody without incident and transported to the McDowell County Jail. He appeared Thursday Mitchell County Court before District Judge Hal Harrison, who set his bond at $1 million and revoked his bond from a case earlier this year in which Stafford was charged with strangling and kidnapping the same woman. 

In the first case, Stafford was ordered to stay away from his girlfriend, who remains in ICU at a Johnson City, Tennessee, hospital. The girlfriend’s name has not been released.

In an interview with the News-Journal, Wiseman said Stafford bound the woman’s arms and legs and left her on a bed in his residence at 429 Stafford Road.

“We estimate she was there for two or three days,” Wiseman said. “Her legs were tied with rope and her arms with Duct tape.”

There was Duct tape over her eyes and in her hair, Wiseman said.

“She managed to get some scissors and cut the Duct tape,” Wiseman said. “The scissors wouldn’t cut the rope, so she crawled outside with her legs still bound and that’s how she was found.”

She sustained one or possibly two skull fractures and will likely require plastic surgery, Street said. There is a possibility she could be blind in one eye.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
Fax: 828-765-1616