Sister of slain women honors sheriff

Published 5:16 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

FRANKLIN—For Linda Tuck, a simple thank-you wasn’t enough.

Tuck, the youngest sister of two Emporia women murdered over two years ago and whose bodies were found near Murfreesboro, N.C., wanted to express appreciation, on behalf of her family, to Hertford County (N.C.) Sheriff Juan Vaughan following an arrest in the case on Nov. 20.

So, what does one say to a man who just locked up a person believed responsible for killing your sisters? In Tuck’s case, action speaks louder than words.

On Wednesday morning, Tuck presented Sheriff Vaughan with a huge, framed thank-you card.

“Our family named Sheriff Vaughan as our No. 1 hero of the year,” Tuck said, less than one week after the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office arrested William Curtis Futrell of Franklin on two counts of first-degree murder in the Aug. 4, 2006, deaths of Dorothy Hobbs, 74, and her 71-year-old sister, Nellie Bradley.

“Sheriff Vaughan and his investigators have done an excellent job of handling this case,” Tuck noted. “He maintained constant contact with our family over the course of the two-plus-year investigation, calling me at least once a week, sometimes five to six times per week.”

Tuck added that she and her family (there are two other surviving sisters and one brother) were extremely appreciative of Vaughan’s efforts in solving this case.

“We knew from day one that we were in good hands,” Tuck said. “Many cases of this nature drag on for 20 years or more, and Sheriff Vaughan was determined from the very beginning that this would not happen because of the emotional trauma it has caused our family. He is the greatest … a big man with an even bigger heart.”

For Tuck and her family, dealing with the daily doses of emotion was like riding a roller-coaster.

“We never put this out of our minds,” she said of remembering the life and legacy of her two older sisters. “Personally, Dot and Nellie were like mothers to me because they were much older. But neither I nor my family was alone in this. We had Sheriff Vaughan. I can’t think of a better man to have on your side. I hope the people there in your area know how lucky they are to have a man, a sheriff, such as Juan Vaughan.”

Tuck said she “borrowed” the No. 1 hero of the year idea from the “Anderson Cooper 360” news show on CNN.

“I started with a small thank-you card that just got bigger and bigger,” she said.

As far as having the arrest behind her, Tuck said at least that page of this case is now closed.

“Two things came to mind — relief and thankfulness — when Sheriff Vaughan called to say that an arrest had been made,” Tuck said. “We are relieved and thankful that the person responsible for this crime is behind bars and that he can’t cause harm to anyone else. We were just so afraid that the person responsible would hurt someone else, especially an elderly person.”