LUMBERTON — The death of a local pastor and his wife earlier this week appears to have been a murder-suicide.
According to a statement released by the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office this afternoon, 68-year-old Bill Scott shot Charlotte Scott, 64, before turning a handgun on himself. The statement said no further information was available and that the investigation is ongoing.
The two were found on the patio of their Old Whiteville Road home by their 16-year-old granddaughter at about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
According to multiple sources, Bill Scott walked up to his wife of about five years from behind and shot her in the back of the head and then in the temple with a .22-caliber gun. He then shot himself in the right temple.
Even before autopsies were completed on Friday, family and friends said the whole thing just didn’t add up.
“We’re just totally shocked and don’t really know what to make of it or what to think,” said Wayne McIntosh, deacon at Charity Baptist Church, where Bill Scott served as interim pastor for about three years.
McIntosh said Bill became involved with the church at a time when it was divided.
“Bill and Charlotte, we just felt like were God-sent to Charity Baptist Church,” he said.
According to the deacon, Bill’s calm, warm personality was instrumental in reuniting the church.
“He was a very well-educated man, yet he was very down to earth. He had a way of injecting humor into his sermons, but yet there was no doubt that he was preaching God’s word. That just attracted the people to him, his mannerism and everything else to him,” McIntosh said.
Charlotte Scott was also dedicated in her involvement with the church, as well as East Lumberton Baptist Church, where her husband served as treasurer.
Jeanine Wenger-Hulbert said that was just Charlotte’s character. Wenger-Hulbert counted Charlotte, a talented seamstress who enjoyed cooking, as one of her closest friends.
“She would just work tirelessly for anybody,” Wenger-Hulbert said, remembering summers spent at her home in Virginia Beach with her husband, Richard, Bill and Charlotte. Wenger-Hulbert said the couple has come to visit every year for about five years, but couldn’t make the trip this year because Bill was experiencing heart problems.
“I was with her when she met Bill at Long Branch Cafe,” Wenger-Hulbert said. “… They were never separated after that.”
Michael Bowen, pastor of East Lumberton Baptist Church, said Bill and Charlotte always seemed like a happy couple and were raising their granddaughter.
Elizabeth Scott, Bill’s niece, was planning to travel to North Carolina from Savannah.Ga., to attend the Scotland County Highland Games in October, visit her uncle and meet his wife for the first time.
“I just wanted to kind of hook up with him and tell him I loved him,” she said.
Bill was the younger brother of Elizabeth’s father, a former homicide detective in Georgia. When her father died at age 59, Bill was her source of comfort and often gave her scriptures to help her through her anxiety and grief.
“I would get upset and I would call him, and he would talk me through it,” she said. “That’s how I’ll remember him.”
Elizabeth said her family often leaned on Bill to “take care of things.” They marveled at how a family of so many redheaded Scotts could produce such a mellow descendent.
“That was kind of an ongoing joke … Uncle Bill was always the one that was real calm and was the peacemaker,” she said.
A funeral service for Charlotte Scott will be held at East Lumberton Baptist Church on Sunday at 2 p.m. Visitation will be at Floyd Mortuary on from 7 to 9 p.m. As of Friday afternoon, funeral plans for Bill Scott had not been arranged.