PLANET MOIRA AUTHOR KILLED
by Shannon Longneck
Award winning writer and local New Grace celebrity Shioban McCarthy, age 68, killed in her Godfrey home.
Mrs. McCarthy is the author of the science fiction trilogy Planet Moira, in which a young woman leads a band of rebels in a fight to take back her planet from alien invaders. Filming is set to begin for the first book in the series before the end of the year.
On Saturday night an anonymous call was received by 911 operator Melody Hoffman. The caller stated they witnessed Shioban McCarthy enter her home, heard screaming and saw someone running through the yard. Police arrived four minutes later. Ms. McCarthy was found dead, bound to a chair with a dishcloth stuffed in her mouth and a wound on her head. Upon examination of the home it appeared it had been searched. A window was found broken and the inner frame cut out. Detective Malcolm Corley said, “We believe the burglar cut out the frame to avoid setting off the alarm, which would have occurred had the window be raised.”
Although a neighbor confirms seeing Mrs. McCarthy get out of a car and walk into her home at approximately 1:15, she denies hearing any screams, seeing someone leave the house and calling 911 twenty minutes later.
The author’s husband could not be located until Sunday evening when he returned home. Jason McCarthy had a solid alibi and was cleared as a suspect. He was able to provide the police with their first clue. Although it appeared nothing was missing, Mr. McCarthy knew what they were looking for. “There’s been a rumor that my wife was writing a fourth book in the series. We have had about a dozen breakins in the last 10 years, people looking for the manuscript,” he said. “That’s why we put in the security system and got a dog. If I hadn’t taken Conan with me he might have heard the burglar and she’d still be alive.”
Upon initial examination it was thought Mrs. McCarthy was sufficated and died of asphyxiation. It was not until the official autopsy was underway did the forensic team believe there might be more to her death. A trace of powder was found on her lips. Chemical analysis showed the powder to be consistant with the kind found inside many brands of latex gloves to make them easier to get on. Mrs. McCarthy medical history confirms she is allergic to latex. It was at that time the coroner discovered the true cause of death – anaphylaxis.
For the next few day the investigation continued without much luck. A team went through Mrs. McCarthy’s fan mail, both the love and hate, and came up with several people who seemed a bit too involved for your average fan. A few people were questioned.
There were no solid suspects for the murder until Thursday when Crime Stoppers received a call from Sharon Stover. Ms. Stover reported she overheard her son and his friend, both age 8, discussing something that happened in the other child’s home Sunday morning. He said his mother was very upset about a book she couldn’t find and when his father suggested she buy a new copy his mother threw her coffee cup at him. Later that evening she was crying over ‘that lady’ getting killed. Ms. Stover had heard on the news that Shioban McCarthy had been murdered. She knew what a great fan of the author’s her friend Deliah Barney was and didn’t think anything about the woman being upset. “But it was what her son said about she ‘couldn’t find a book’ and her reaction to the suggestion she buy a new one that bothered me,” Ms. Stover told the police. “You don’t want to think that someone you’re close to could do something like break into someone’s house and kill them, but I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. I knew I had to tell someone. Even if it led nowhere, it was the right thing to do.”
“We would have investigated regardless, but the tip itself wasn’t really much to go on. But when the same name, Deliah Barney, popped up on our list of fans who might be a bit obsessed we knew we wanted to talk to her,” said Detective Winston Spaulding. “There was no one home when the police arrived. It became clear just how obsessed the woman might be when the welcome mat said, “Planet Moira Defense League.”
After obtaining a search warrant the police recovered a pair of latex gloves in the center console of Dehliah Barney’s car parked in the garage. There was lipstick on one glove. Officer Janel Midwinter, the first officer to arrive at the scene Saturday night and who also found the gloves, said, “I knew right away they were the gloves that killed Mrs McCarthy. What are the chances that hideous shade of pink would show up twice in the same investigation?” Later testing confirmed two separate DNA profiles on the gloves, Dehliah Barney and Shioban McCarthy.
“She is my favorite author,” said 34 year old fitness trainer Dehliah Barney in her signed confession. She admits she panicked when she heard the door to the room she was in opening. She came up behind her and covered her mouth with her gloved hand. They struggled and she struck the author with a vase. Then she tied and gagged her. She bought a phone at a gas station and called 911 to insure Mrs. McCarthy would be found quickly. “I didn’t mean to kill her.”
“Deliah Barney had no way of knowing she had exposed Shioban McCarthy to a lethal allergen,” said prosecutor Una O’Shea at a press conference held this morning. “All of this because she wanted a copy of a book that doesn’t even exist. It’s another tragic story of a fan turned fanatic.”