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Decapitation case: Teen suspect's mental state to be probed

Decapitation case: Teen suspect's mental state to be probed

ZEBULON, N.C. — Authorities are evaluating the mental state of a man accused of decapitating his mother and who's been described as "profoundly disturbed" by his attorney.

The grisly scene unfolded Monday afternoon in a neighbourhood of one-story homes about 30 miles east of Raleigh when the 18-year-old man killed his mother and then walked out the front door of her house holding the woman's head, authorities said.

Oliver Funes Machada was charged Monday with first-degree murder after he called 911 to say he had killed his mother, according to a Franklin County Sheriff's Office statement. It said he was arrested without offering resistance, and that the body of his 35-year-old mother, Yesenia Funez Beatriz Machado, was found inside the home.

His public defender, Louisburg attorney C. Boyd Sturges III, said in a phone interview that he spoke with Funes Machada for an hour in the Franklin County jail.

"It does appear there's some substantial mental health issues involved in this case," Sturges said. "I'm not a doctor, so I can't really elaborate. He's a pretty profoundly disturbed young man in a mental health kind of way."

The exact names of the suspect and his mother were unclear. Local court records list the suspect's name as Oliver Funes Machada, Sturges said.

Federal records list his name as Oliver Funes Machado, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox. In a statement, Cox said the suspect was from Honduras and was in the country illegally. Franklin County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Terry Wright gave the mother's name as Yesenia Beatriz Funez Machado, citing a spelling given to authorities by her 14-year-old son.

District Attorney Mike Waters said officials were seeking a mental evaluation of Funes Machada. Due to the suspect's apparent mental state, Waters said, "this is something that's going to take weeks and months for us to get some answers as to why this happened."

The district attorney said the suspect was being transferred to Central Prison in Raleigh and his next court appearance was set for March 14.

Two young girls in the home were not hurt. A fourth child was in school when the attack occurred.

Neighbour Randy Mullins said he believes the other children were the suspect's siblings.

Mullins was leaving his house minutes after the first deputy arrived and he said he saw the woman's head lying in the front yard about five feet from the porch. The deputy appeared to have just handcuffed the suspect and seemed rattled when Mullins approached to ask if he needed help.

"You could see in his face he had a lot of concern. I'm not saying he was scared, but you could tell he was concerned," Mullins said of the deputy.

Mullins then went back to his house across the street and told his 91-year-old mother to stay inside. He said a half-dozen more law enforcement vehicles arrived within minutes and a deputy covered the woman's head.

"I couldn't believe it. Things like that don't happen," said Mullins, 59, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 25 years. "You can't believe somebody would do that. You hear about that, but it never happens across the street from you."

He added the suspect appeared calm while he sat handcuffed as a deputy kneeled down to comfort the two younger children. "He was sitting there like he didn't have a care in the world," Mullins said of the 18-year-old. "He didn't appear to be upset; he didn't appear to be crying."

Mullins said the family had moved in around June 2016. He didn't know them well, but he and his mother said they seemed friendly.

"If they were outside, they always waved at you," said Clearsy Mullins, who's been living with her son for about 10 years.

On Tuesday, a group of friends or relatives went to the house where the woman was killed, loading belongings including a stroller into two mini-vans. A neighbour who had stopped by to offer his condolences told a reporter the group didn't want to talk, and they left after about 20 minutes.


Foreman reported from Charlotte, North Carolina.


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Jonathan Drew And Tom Foreman Jr., The Associated Press