Family speaks out after NC mom is killed, suspects appear in court

North Carolina news

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT/WNCN) — The family of missing, slain North Carolina woman spoke out after they were barred from entering a courtroom Monday as those charged in the death had their first appearance.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, those who knew Elizabeth Andrea Spencer were not allowed in court.

Spencer, 30, a New Bern mother of two daughters, was last seen June 16 and was found dead Friday in a secluded area of Jones County.

Leon Mitchell, who is charged with murder, is being held without bond. Tyrabia Parker, Mitchell’s sister, is charged with accessory after the fact, also appeared in court.

Mitchell (left) and Parker in photos from New Bern police.

She is now being held on a $756,000 bond.

Spencer’s family said they want Mitchell to know he won’t get away with it.

“It’s awful,” said Jocelyn Buzby, Spencer’s half-sister. “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. No one deserves to lose their sibling or any family member.”

Crews searched for more than three weeks for Spencer. Dive teams searched the Trent River near Oaks Road in New Bern on July 1, but did not find anything.

They found Spencer’s remains Friday in a secluded area of Jones County, which is southwest of New Bern.

“Now, since Friday, it’s more of just like an empty feeling knowing that she’s not coming home,” said Elizabeth Laroche, Spencer’s step-sister. “It’s just a completely different feeling.”

Laroche and Buzby both say they hope Spencer’s case will bring more attention to missing people who don’t fall under an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert.

“She’s not any less of a missing person because she’s not 10 or 90,” said Buzby.

Police are still trying to figure out a motive.

“It’s a tragic case, but it’s good to see that those responsible will see justice and the family of Mrs. Spencer has some type of closure,” said Capt. David Daniels of the New Bern Police Department.

Both Mitchell, 35, and Parker, 41, have a next court appearance set for July 28.

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