ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — A North Carolina man accused of killing his wife is out of jail.
A grand jury chose not to indict 72-year-old Frank Mansfield on a first-degree murder charge on January 17.
Just before Christmas in Elizabeth City, police got a call for reports of gunshots on Golf Club Drive. Officers were dispatched when a call came in from a man who said he had just shot his wife.
Phyllis Mansfield, 73, was found in the garage of the house with gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her husband, 73-year-old Samuel “Frank” Mansfield, was found walking down the driveway when officers arrived. He was immediately taken in to custody.
10 On Your Side obtained court paperwork that reveals what happened that dark December 14 morning.
Mansfield’s neighbor, Hazel Lister, is surprised a grand jury decided not to file a murder charge against him.
“I don’t know why they made that decision,” Lister said. “I was surprised… I don’t excuse it. I don’t understand it. If she is sick, I don’t think it is up to him to take her life.”
Mansfield admitted to police he took Phyllis’ life. Court documents read, “He loaded the gun… He told her to come into the garage. She walked towards him… He raised the gun to her chest and fired two shots into Mrs. Mansfield’s chest. Mr. Mansfield stated Mrs. Mansfield stated that he was killing her.”
According to court documents, Mansfield said he realized he had to kill his wife of 53 years because she needed to move into an assisted living center, due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Detective Zachary Lovett with the Elizabeth City Police Department is the applicant for an affidavit, which includes all this information. In the affidavit, Detective Lovett writes that Mansfield was interviewed by detective Graham and Sgt. Judge in December. The following statements come from that interview:
Mr. Mansfield stated he didn’t think the first two shots did the job and he didn’t want [her] to live in a vegetative state, so he shot her one or two more times… Placed the gun back in the wooden filing cabinet until Mrs. Mansfield took her last breath.”
Lister says she’s worked for years with dementia patients, and Mansfield had options he should have explored.
“There were better ways to handle this. He could have checked her into a facility. He had the authority to check her in because he is her husband, and he could have checked her in, and maybe get her the help she needed,” she said. “It involves medication.”
Instead, Mansfield shot his wife dead, and when police arrived at the house, court papers say, “Mrs. Mansfield had at least two gunshot wounds to the left side of her chest and one gunshot wound to the left of her head, near her left ear.”
Mansfield was not at his home Monday. Court papers suggest he could be living with a daughter. WAVY’s Andy Fox went to that home, but no one answered the door, and we did not get a call back.
Grand jury proceedings are considered secret. However, 10 On Your Side has learned that this particular grand jury involved 18 people and 12 or more decided not to charge Mansfield in the death of his wife. That 12 is the required threshold for charging or not charging.