Committee meets to find answers in Beaufort County woman's death

BEAUFORT COUNTY, NC (WITN) A committee created by the Beaufort County commissioners met Wednesday to discuss an update on the progress of the investigation into the death of Brenda Hamilton.

Brenda Hamilton, 77, was a teacher who was who suffered fatal injuries as a result of an attack by an unknown animal on the night of Feb.15.

Hamilton was walking on Indian Run Road outside of Pantego. Deputies say Hamilton was found in a ditch submerged up to her shoulders in water.

For nearly two hours, the committee discussed how to move forward with the investigation into Hamilton's death.

Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson is adamant on determining what animal attacked Hamilton.

"What did this to this woman? That is the big question. It is unknown as to what attacked and killed this lady," Richardson said.

Outside of the committee and commissioners, the family of Hamilton, an expert brought in for advice on the investigation, the public, and representatives from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, were able to ask questions and clear up any concerns with the investigation.

Richardson said, "The questions that was answered, since there's not an authority to proceed with this kind of an investigation—the big thing that we decided is; we're proceeding on our own. And we decided what we're going to do."

The sheriff's office was asked whether or not they missed any evidence that could have been obtained during Hamilton's medical transport. They defended their investigation. Richardson believes it's unfair to raise those concerns

Richardson said, "When law enforcement arrives on the scene, the first thing they do is try to save the life. I agree with that. You don't know whether it's necessarily a criminal investigation all the time or whether it's something like this; which is really not defined anywhere. To second guess that not enough of the information was saved; I don't think is quite fair. Although, I think if we have another one of these incidents, there will be a lot more information saved as was in the past.

Richardson explained that they have budgeted $3,500 for the investigation and expects to need more.

"It looks like it might be as much as—my estimate is $10,000 or $12,000."

The commissioner concluded that his goal is to send the evidence to another lab to get a second opinion. They hope they can solve this case to prevent this animal from attacking again.

'We've delegated the sheriff's office, the county manager to get together, come back with some recommendations for the committee as to who we're going to proceed with," Richardson said. "Evidence has been collected that we can go forward with. That evidence is still on hand. It's still protected. It can still be used. And what we know is we would maybe like to do a deeper dive into the evidence that we have to see if we can produce an answer," Richardson said.

Richardson feels as though the meeting was successful and they are making progress. "The commissioner's doing everything they can to get to the bottom of this so that we can find an answer. It's true that we may not have an answer when it's over with, but we want the public to know that we're doing everything we can to get to an answer.'

The next meeting is scheduled for August 29th at 9 a.m.

Though representatives did speak at the meeting, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office declined to do an on-camera interview.