A Doctor by Day and Musician by Night — 'Dateline' Examines the Murder of Buddy McCutcheon

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May. 13 2022, Published 4:21 p.m. ET

Frank "Buddy" McCutcheon's obituary tells the story of a talented surgeon who, in his spare time, was an avid musician able to play multiple instruments. He loved history, and in particular, was fascinated by the United States Civil War. "He loved his family, he loved life, and he loved his patients, fellow colleagues, and doctors and will be missed by all," it also said.

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His obituary also shares that he was survived by a robust family that consisted of siblings, nieces, and nephews. Perhaps most importantly, he left behind his wonderful wife Brenda. Or was she? On the evening of July 16, 2016, Buddy was shot and killed in his home in Arden, N.C. Brenda claimed intruders broke into their home, found their gun, and murdered Buddy. A new episode of Dateline will tell a different story. So, where is Brenda McCutcheon now? Here's what we know.

Brenda and Buddy McCutcheon
Source: NBC

Brenda and Buddy McCutcheon

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Where is Brenda McCutcheon now?

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety lists Brenda McCutcheon as an inmate at Anson Correctional Institution in Polkton, N.C, where she is currently serving a life sentence. Brenda was admitted on Feb. 15, 2020, and unless something drastically changes, she'll stay there for the rest of her life. How did Brenda go from loving wife to convicted murderer? It was a very bumpy road.

According to WLOS, just after 3:30 a.m. on the morning of July 16, 2016, Buddy McCutcheon was shot to death in the home he shared with his wife of 32 years, Brenda McCutcheon. When police arrived, Brenda told them someone had broken into their house, a house that was located virtually in the middle of nowhere, then located the gun they kept in a drawer. That same gun was used to kill Buddy and was later found tossed in some ivy in the couple's front yard. Brenda maintained she had nothing to do with his death.

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How did authorities zero in on Brenda McCutcheon as a suspect?

As far back as July 11, 2016, the North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) was investigating Buddy and Brenda "on possible charges of embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretenses," per WLOS. Specifically, Cosmetic Surgery of Asheville (Buddy's business), was the focus of the investigation. Their case had been sent to the criminal department of the NCDOR who, three days before Buddy's death, served the couple with a court order, per Citizen Times.

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Evidently, Brenda was in charge of that side of the business, and her signature was on everything. This was not her area of expertise, which is how things got so wildly out of control. Once authorities figured this out, they were alerted to a storage unit rented by Brenda that contained "55 boxes, some were labeled 'personal taxes' dating back to 2001 and others were labeled 'insurance claims.'"

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After establishing a motive and deciding that her story about the night of her husband's murder was flimsy at best, Brenda was arrested and indicted in November 2017 for first-degree murder. The prosecution leaned heavily on the tax issues, painting Brenda as a desperate woman unable to fix her own mistakes.

The defense pointed out the complete lack of evidence at the crime scene. "No confirmable DNA belonging to Brenda on a gun found in the ivy outside their Arden home, and no fingerprints," said WLOS. They also referenced the fact that Buddy had allegedly been engaged in multiple affairs throughout his 30-plus years of marriage to Brenda. We're not sure why the defense would trot this out. Maybe they were suggesting a jilted lover killed Buddy?

Regardless, the defense's case was not strong enough to convince the jury of Brenda's innocence. On Feb. 14, 2020, (Valentine's Day, no less), Brenda was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Tune into Dateline for a deeper look into this tragic tale.

Dateline airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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