Prosecutors say they will carefully examine the mental state of a teen accused of decapitating his mother at their home northeast of Zebulon on Monday.
Oliver Funes-Machado, 18, was arrested at the family home on Morgan Drive, off Carlyle Road, on Monday afternoon and charged with first-degree murder.
Franklin County Sheriff Kent Winstead told reporters that Funes-Machado called 911 to report a homicide and stayed on the phone until a deputy arrived. He then walked out of the house holding the head of his mother, Yesenia Funes-Machado Beatriz Machado, 35, in one hand and what appeared to be a large butcher knife in the other, Winstead said. He was arrested without incident.
Two young siblings, ages about 2 or 3, were home at the time of the incident but were unharmed, Winstead said. A fourth child was at school, he said.
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No motive for the killing has been determined yet, and deputies will continue investigating and conducting interviews with Funes-Machado and others, said Ninth District Attorney Michael Waters.
“I imagine there will be an examination of his mental state and that will be a key issue in the case,” Waters said.
Randy Mullins, who lives across Morgan Drive from the family, was pulling out of his driveway Monday when he noticed that sheriff’s deputies had handcuffed Funes-Machado to a metal street light at the edge of the front yard.
“I thought something was up with the kid, and when I passed by he looked up at me,” said Mullins, 59. “I asked the officer if there was anything wrong, and he told me, ‘No, no, just go on.’ He wasn’t upset. He kept his cool, but you could tell he was rattled by what he saw.”
Mullin had nearly left the Morgan Downs subdivision when his daughter called his cellphone and told him there had been a murder on Morgan Drive. He turned his car around and went past 90 Morgan Drive.
“The mother’s head was lying in the front yard,” he said. “He’s lucky the police didn’t just shoot him – you come out holding a head and a knife.”
Sheriff’s investigators eventually covered up the head, which sat in the yard until 10 p.m., when the woman’s body was transported by the coroner’s office.
Franklin Chief Deputy Terry Wright said the sheriff’s office had not responded to any calls at the family’s home since they moved in last June.
Mullins, who has lived on the street for 25 years, described his new neighbors as quiet, polite people who kept to themselves.
“They kept their yard neat,” he said, nodding at the one-story beige home with burgundy shutters, bordered by a wide yard with manicured hedges and a red mulch flower bed where an American flag flew on a flagpole. There is a trampoline and swing set in the backyard.
“They built that swing set a month or so after moving in,” Mullins said. “No loud noises, nothing. They just seemed like normal people. They were so quiet.”
The children’s father was at work at the time of the killing, said Waters, the district attorney. Mullins said the father normally worked in Virginia Beach, but was working in Raleigh on Monday.
“The dad got here at about 4 p.m.,” Mullins said. “They took him away in an ambulance.”
Funes-Machado is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh and is scheduled to appear for a probable cause hearing March 14, Waters said. Louisburg attorney Boyd Sturges has been appointed Funes-Machado’ defense attorney.