Charge upgraded in death of Portsmouth businesswoman

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 79-year-old Betty Philbrick was owner of one of the oldest businesses in Portsmouth until being found dead in her home.

10 On Your Side got a copy of the grand jury indictment related to her murder investigation. The document reveals that on June 1, Philbrick’s son became concerned when she didn’t show up for work or answer her phone. After several knocks, David Spencer Turner answered the door, bruised and shaking.

Betty Philbrick (Photo courtesy: Family friend)
Betty Philbrick (Photo courtesy: Family friend)

DOCUMENT: David Turner Grand Jury Indictment

The court documents state Philbrick’s son found her lifeless body on the garage floor, and called police.

Portsmouth’s top prosecutor said Turner was initially charged with malicious wounding, but after the autopsy was completed he’s now facing first degree murder.

“There are two causes of death, one of them kind of contributory,” said Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Earle C. Mobley. “Actually, the way the medical examiner described it as strangulation and blunt force trauma to the chest.”

Mobley said Turner and Philbrick knew each other: “They had a long-standing relationship. This was not a stranger. They knew each other, and the family was well aware of it for some period of time.”

Mobley said right now there are no other suspects for the woman who was once at the helm of a plumbing, heating and cooling company.

“We’re confident of that. We’re looking forward to presenting this case to a judge or jury or whatever he chooses,” he said. “We’re ready to go forward at this point.”

Turner remains held at a local jail. He faces between 20 years to life in prison, if convicted.

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