Sheriff: Body of NC murder suspect’s 1st wife could be exhumed

State - Regional
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NASHVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Nash County native Lynn Keel is in Arizona awaiting an extradition hearing. He’s charged with the murder of his wife, Diana Keel.

Diana’s murder is now causing investigators to take a second look at the death of Lynn Keel’s first wife, Bess Keel. Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told CBS 17 he’d reopen the investigation into her death.

Elizabeth Bess Keel died at the same Nash County home where Lynn lived with Diana. Bess died on Jan. 1, 2006. CBS 17 was told she slipped on the outside steps of her home. Investigators said she hit her head and died. She was only 42-years-old. Her family said they always had questions about her death.

“We’re gonna work all the leads on that and we’re gonna go back and look at the information we had from the first incident reports,” Sheriff Stone said at a press conference. “We’re gonna talk with the district attorney’s office.”

Bess Keel is buried in a family plot in Spring Hope. Stone said right now he is working with a pathologist and going over all of the evidence. he said there is a strong possibility they will exhume Bess’ body.

Dr. John Butts was the chief medical examiner in North Carolina for 24 years.

“One would only go to exhume a body if there was some question that wasn’t addressed at the time that could be addressed by re-examining the remains,” Butts said.

Butts said an investigation would start by law enforcement and the medical examiner working together to go over the autopsy and other evidence.

“There are other rare occasions where items of evidence weren’t collected. Those, again, were rare, but they happened and some additional item was realized that would be helpful. So the body was exhumed for those purposes, but most of the time that was because, at the time the death, (it) wasn’t regarded as suspicious until later on when additional information came up and suddenly it was looked at in a different light,” Butts said.

Butts said he’s worked plenty of cases in his career where a death that was ruled accidental turned out to be a homicide.

“Someone falls off of something and was killed and then additional information turns out that they didn’t fall. They were pushed, and there would be no difference in the examination. We’d have the same findings, but of course, now the circumstances leading up to why it happened have changed,” Butts said.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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