Woman pleads guilty to helping hide body in homeless camp
WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) — A woman has pleaded guilty to helping hide a dead body in a Virginia homeless encampment and will spend up to five years in prison.
Clara Ann Perdue, 38, entered her plea and was sentenced Thursday, The Winchester Star reported. She said she assisted Larry Lee Mullenax III in hiding the body of Sarah Michelle Curran, who was killed in a Frederick County camp in July 2020.
Mullenax is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday. He faces up to 50 years after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in March.
The three were living in the encampment when the 22-year-old was killed. Authorities say Mullenax choked and stabbed Curran and tried to drown her in a cooler before hitting her head with a rock. Perdue stood by.
Heather D. Enloe, an assistant county commonwealth’s attorney, told the judge Perdue helped Mullenax put the body in a sleeping bag, move it to the woods and cover it with towels.
Police said Mullenax bragged on Facebook Messenger about killing Curran, and Perdue told them he discussed “getting rid of her” weeks before she died. An encampment resident told the newspaper Mullenax planned to use Curran’s bank card to withdraw money and then leave town after the killing.
The victim’s mother previously told The Star her daughter dated Mullenax, who was abusive and took advantage of the fact that Curran had Asperger’s syndrome.
Perdue claimed during a February hearing that she was born with a mental disability. But a psychologist who evaluated her at the state psychiatric hospital where she was sent said she was “exaggerating and feigning deficits in factual and rational understanding” to avoid prosecution.
The sentence for Perdue — who has been incarcerated since July 31, 2020 — includes time served. She’ll have three years of supervised probation upon release and was also ordered to pay about $2,300 in restitution.