Rowan County woman arrested after allegedly killing grandmother, embezzling money; Boyfriend accused of aiding, abetting embezzlement

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Sarah E.. Smith and Brandon Joines

Sarah E.. Smith and Brandon Joines

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — A woman is accused of murdering her grandmother and embezzling her money more than a year after the victim’s death, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

In October of 2019, deputies responded to the scene after 87-year-old Peggy Austin, of Kannapolis, was found dead.

Due to Austin’s age and the circumstance, deputies initially thought that she died of a tragic fall.

Detectives, however, suspected that the scene may have been staged due to the severity of Austin’s injuries.

Sgt. Greene determined that Austin’s granddaughter, Sarah E.. Smith, 28, and Smith’s boyfriend Brandon Joines, 43, both of Kannapolis, lived with Austin and believed that they had fraudulently used her money. He theorized that this could be a motive for the homicide.

On Dec. 23, the sheriff’s office obtained warrants for Smith on an embezzlement charge and Joines on an aiding and abetting embezzlement charge.

They were arrested on Tuesday in Mooresville with the help of Mooresville police.

Mooresville police also charged Smith with multiple drug charges after allegedly finding meth in her car.

In Rowan County, Smith reportedly confessed to pushing Austin down the stairs and causing her death.

Smith was placed in the Rowan County Detention Center on Wednesday under a $50,000 secured bond for the embezzlement charge. Joines was also jailed on his charge under a $50,000 secured bond.

Early Wednesday morning, Greene consulted with the district attorney and obtained a warrant for Smith on a charge of second-degree murder. She was still in jail at the time.

She received an additional $100,000 bond.

Additional charges may be pending.

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