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Four Surry County family members accused of trying to conceal murder

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Brian Johnson, Melody Johnson, Ashtin Matthews and Robin Barnett

SURRY COUNTY, N.C. — Four family members in Surry County are accused of trying to conceal the death of a man whose body was found in a shallow grave last week. 

The suspects have been charged in connection to the death of Charles Daniel Smith, 37, of Lowgap, was reported missing by his family on April 26.

Officials said Smith was killed by Billy “Wayne” Johnson, of Lowgap.

Billy Johnson died in a motor vehicle crash on Old Lowgap Road in the Lowgap community on March 28, according to authorities.

The suspects include Melody Denise Johnson, 46, Mount Airy, (mother of Billy Johnson); Brian Keith Johnson, 50 of Mount Airy (father of Billy Johnson); Ashtin Nichole Matthews, 24 of Lowgap (widow of Billy Johnson) and Robin Deanne Barnett, 29, of Lowgap (sister of Billy Johnson).

Brian Johnson, Melody Johnson and Matthews are charged with accessory after the fact to the felony of first degree murder and concealing and failing to report a death.

Barnett has been charged with concealing and failing to report a death.

Following an investigation, officers executed a search warrant at a home at 104 River Rat Lane. Brian and Melody Johnson live at the home.

Smith’s body was found in a shallow grave inside a metal building on the curtilage of the residence. The body had been covered with cement.

An autopsy conducted last week revealed that Smith died of a gunshot wound.

Brian Johnson, Melody Johnson and Ashtin Matthews were all placed in the Surry County Detention Center under $100,000 bonds. Barnett was released on a written promise to appear and has court scheduled for Aug. 12.


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