Elderly beating victim dies

A second woman bludgeoned in the head at a Chatham County retirement community died Saturday, and the housekeeper being held in the case faces another murder charge.

Mary Corcoran, 82, was one of three women beaten in a Fearrington Village apartment Wednesday. She had been in critical condition at UNC Hospitals until her death. Margaret Murta, 92, who had hired the housekeeper, died in the attack. Their neighbor Rebecca Fisher, 77, remained in stable condition at UNC Hospitals on Saturday.

District Attorney Jim Woodall said late Saturday he will file a second charge of first-degree murder against Barbara Clark, 41, of Pittsboro on Monday. He has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

As of Saturday, Clark, a convicted felon, was facing one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. She is being held without bond.

Seven years ago, Clark pleaded guilty to stealing more than $5,000 from a 90-year-old man at the Durham retirement community where she worked. A judge gave her a suspended sentence and ordered Clark not to work anywhere she would have access to elderly people's property or possessions for three years.

Just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, an employee of Galloway Ridge apartments, just south of Chapel Hill, called 911 and reported three people in the apartment who looked as though they had been hit in the head. "All three females had sustained massive trauma," Sgt. Brandon Jones wrote in his application for a search warrant. There was blood in several places in the apartment and a can of pepper spray under a table, he wrote.

Deputies found Clark nearby, said Maj. Gary Blankenship, Chatham County sheriff's spokesman.

Clark told a deputy that Mary Corcoran had given her a check for too much money, so she was going to write her a check for the difference.

She claimed that she left the room to get her checkbook, heard screaming and returned to find a man beating the women, according to the warrants. She said she used her pepper spray and ran.

That sent officers with rifles and a dog scouring the area. Authorities say Clark lied.

They think that Murta and Corcoran wanted to discuss money with Clark and that they asked Fisher to be a witness "when they confronted [Clark] about stealing and forging the checks," according to the warrants.

Clark turned on the women, investigators said, using pepper spray and beating them with a blunt object, probably a cane.