DUPLIN COUNTY - A $1,000 reward is being offered to help find whoever shot a 60-year-old Duplin County woman in the head as she was watching TV, causing serious brain injury.
Family members of 60-year-old Drew Mary Whitley told NewsChannel 12 that a bullet is lodged in Whitley's brain, and doctors were unable to remove the entire bullet during surgery Wednesday. Instead, only fragments were taken out.
One side of Whitley's body may be paralyzed, her family said. Whitley was listed in serious condition at Vidant Medical Center as of Thursday, a hospital official said. That's an improvement from Wednesday, when she was listed in critical condition.
According to Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace, the Whitley was in her home by herself on Cole Swamp Road, near Chinquapin, Tuesday night. That was when a single bullet came through her front door and hit her head, said Sheriff Wallace.
(Pictured above is the bullet hole on the front door.)
Whitley then called a family member, who called authorities, said Wallace.
Lemuel Price is a close friend of the family, and lives right around the corner from where it all happened.
"A lady gone come home, worked all night long and then come laying on her chair resting, and somebody shooting through her house? Man, it's crazy," He said.
Wallace told NewsChannel 12 there was no sign of any forced entry attempt, and no property was taken. He added that it was unclear if the incident was a drive-by shooting, a case of mistaken identity, or if the victim was hit by a stray bullet.
"She's a good lady. She don't bother nobody and you don't hardly know she is in there," He said.
Close friend Felicia Bannerman said Whitley is a quiet woman who has no enemies.
"In my mind it wasn't meant for her to be shot it was meant for something else. Either somebody was hunting or somebody was in an altercation," Bannerman said.
"It's real sad. I just hope they get to the bottom of this," Price said.
No arrest has been made in the shooting, but deputies said they are following up on leads. The Duplin County Sheriff's Office is offering a $1,000 reward for information in this case. Call the Sheriff's Office at 910-296-2150.