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Dorthia Demetrice BYNUM

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 17, 1998
Date of arrest: 2 days after
Date of birth: 1981
Victim profile: Tiffany Long, 10
Method of murder: Beating with a metal-tipped bedrail
Location: Alamance County, North Carolina, USA
Status: Pleads guilty. Sentenced to a minimum 124-years prison on February 14, 2000
 
 
 
 
 
 

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North Carolina woman gets 124 years in slaying

February 14, 2000

Dorthia Bynum, 18, was sentenced Monday to at least 124 years in prison for the kidnapping, sodomy and beating death of 10 year old Tiffany Long. Two boys, one 15 and the other 17, face trial in Tiffany's slaying. Tiffany knew the boys and Bynam. She was abducted and killed in October 1998.

According to the Associated Press, her body was discovered behind a vacant house where all three teens had once lived. Tiffany was held down and raped, then beaten with a bed rail. Bynum agreed to testify against the boys as part of a plea bargain and could have faced the death penalty without the deal.

 
 

Bynum pleads guilty

By Bill Cresenzo - Times-News

Dorthia Bynum will spend the rest of her life in prison after pleading guilty Friday to murder and other charges in the slaying of 10-year-old Tiffany Long.

In a hastily arranged hearing, Bynum, who was charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court to a reduced charge of second-degree murder.

Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson will sentence Bynum to at least 124 years in prison, according to terms of a plea bargain reached with the Alamance County District Attorney’s Office.

“Basically it would take a pardon from the governor to get her out, and that’s not likely,” Craig Thompson, Bynum’s attorney, told the Times-News.

In exchange for the lesser murder charge, Bynum has agreed to testify against co-defendants Harold Jones, 17, her former boyfriend, and his nephew, Joseph Jones, 15. Both are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape and other sex offenses.

Bynum also pleaded guilty to two counts each of first-degree sex offense and first-degree rape and one count each of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape.

Johnson, who moved the court proceedings to Fayetteville because of pretrial publicity, postponed sentencing until after the trials of Harold Jones and Joseph Jones.

Bynum, 18, had faced the death penalty and, under the terms of the plea bargain, still could be tried for first-degree murder if she does not cooperate with the district attorney’s office in its cases against her co-defendants.

Investigators found Long’s beaten body on Oct. 17, 1998, behind a house at 614 Lakeside Ave., Burlington, where Harold Jones and Joseph Jones had lived and where Bynum frequently stayed.

The plea bargain came as a surprise to Nancy Long, Tiffany Long’s grandmother and legal guardian.

Alamance County District Attorney Rob Johnson did not review the plea bargain with her, Long said.

She said she was told Thursday that there would be a hearing, but did not know what was going to happen until she arrived in Fayetteville.

“I’m stunned,” she said. “I’m not sure how I feel. I was not prepared for this, to be honest.

Rob Johnson faxed a notice of the 9 a.m. hearing to the Times-News at 11:23 p.m. Thursday.

The fax gave no details about the hearing, only that it would be “important.”

Linda Priest, Cumberland County’s trial coordinator, said she was not told of the hearing until just before it began.

Bynum walked into the courtroom wearing shackles and was flanked by her court-appointed attorneys, Thompson and Andrew Hanford. Nancy Long’s sister attended the hearing with her. Bynum’s parents and aunt also attended.

Judge Johnson asked Bynum a series of questions, such as whether she understood the terms of the plea bargain.

“Do you personally plead guilty to the charges I just described to you?” Johnson asked.

“Yes, sir,” Bynum replied in a hushed voice.

Rob Johnson declined to comment after the hearing.

Also Friday, Rob Johnson filed a motion asking that Harold Jones and Joseph Jones be tried together. Both are on the Cumberland County trial calendar for Feb. 14 and face life in prison.

 
 

Background on the murder of Tiffany Long

TheTimesNews.com

After she was reported missing the night of Oct. 16, 1998, Burlington police searched more than eight hours for 10-year-old Tiffany Long before her body was found under a brown curtain behind a garage at 614 Lakeside Ave.

Investigators quickly learned that the child, who lived around the corner at 439 Logan St. with her grandmother and five siblings, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, choked with a coaxial cable and beaten to death with a bedrail.

The initial suspects in the case - three teenagers that Long knew from the neighborhood and who had attended Lowe Memorial Baptist Church with her - were contacted by police early on Oct. 17, 1998 after a neighbor said she saw Long with one of the boys who used to live at 614 Lakeside Ave.

Five days later, those suspects, Harold Jones, 16, his nephew Joseph Jones, 13, and Harold Jones' girlfriend Dorthia Bynum, 17, were all charged with first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping.

While the three accused deferred the blame and pointed fingers at one another, during the investigation police learned that Long wrote a love letter to Harold Jones, which angered Bynum. The original plan was simply to scare Long and teach her a lesson - a plan that spiraled out of control.

Harold and Joseph Jones were both convicted of first-degree murder in separate trials, which were held in Cumberland County because Long's death attracted a lot of media attention. Harold and Joseph Jones both received mandatory life sentences. Harold Jones is in Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville. Joseph Jones  is in Nash Correctional Institution in Nashville.

Bynum pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 150 years. Bynum is in Southern Correctional Institution in Troy.

 
 

Tiffany Long 10 years later

TheTimesNews.com

BOB - Road to conviction

Oct. 21, 1998 - Joseph Jones, 13, Harold W. Jones, 16, and Dorthia Bynum, 17, are charged with first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping.

Nov. 9, 1998 - Harold Jones and Bynum are indicted on a charge of murder, kidnapping and four counts of first-degree sex offense.

Nov. 23, 1998 - A judge rules that Joseph Jones is to be tried as an adult.

Sept. 7, 1999 - Joseph Jones is indicted on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, and two counts of first-degree sexual offense. Harold Jones and Bynum are also indicted on the rape charge.

Nov. 29, 1999 - A judge rules that Harold Jones is competent to stand trial. A second ruling about competency is also determined prior to his trial.

Feb. 14, 2000 - Dorthia Bynum pleads guilty to second-degree murder and four other charges. She receives a total sentence of a minimum 124 years and a maximum of 150 years.

Feb. 23, 2000 - A Cumberland County jury finds Joseph Jones guilty of first-degree murder and other charges. He is sentenced to life in prison plus a minimum of 25 years. He appeals.

Oct. 5, 2000 - A Cumberland County jury finds Harold Jones guilty of first-degree murder and other charges. He is sentenced to life in prison plus a minimum of 25 years. He appeals.

Dec. 18, 2001 - The N.C. Court of Appeals confirms Joseph Jones' conviction. His case is still being appealed.

Oct. 15, 2002 - The N.C. Court of Appeals confirms Harold Jones' conviction. His case is still being appealed.

Timeline of the Tiffany Long investigation

4:30 p.m. Oct. 16, 1998 - Last time 10-year-old Tiffany Long is seen.

8:20 p.m. Oct. 16, 1998 - Nancy Long reports her granddaughter missing to Burlington police

12:15 a.m. Oct. 17, 1998 - Police officers finish search of key areas and canvass of neighborhood and report information back to lead investigators

2:45 a.m. Oct. 17, 1998 - Police go to 614 Lakeside Ave. and discover a crime scene

4:55 a.m. Oct. 17, 1998 - Police find Tiffany Long's body behind garage at 614 Lakeside Ave.

4:55 a.m. Oct. 17, 1998 - Police make first contact with three suspects at 1908 Morningside Drive.

11 a.m. Oct. 20, 1998 - Tiffany Long's funeral is held at Lowe Memorial Baptist Church.

5 p.m. Oct. 21, 1998  - Police arrest Harold Jones, 16, Joseph Jones, 13, and Dorthia Bynum, 17, and charge them with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Tiffany Long.

 
 

SBI Agent Testifies in Harold Trial

Agent Analyzes Crime Scene Photos

September 27, 2000

Key pieces of evidence began to fall into place for jurors Tuesday in the Harold Jones murder trial.

The district attorney showed a blood-stained bed rail to jurors. He hasn't yet told them that he thinks that is what killed Tiffany Long.

That is expected to happen Wednesday morning when a medical examiner takes the stand.

Much of the testimony on Tuesday came from State Bureau of Investigation crime scene investigator Bill Lemons.

Lemons analyzed graphic pictures shown to the jury.

The pictures included shots of the crime scene and of 10-year-old Long's bruised and beaten body.

Lemons will continue his testimony Wednesday.

Because the trial was moved from Graham to Fayetteville, many of the jurors haven't heard anything about the case until this week.

Jones, 18, is the last of three teens facing a murder charge in this case. Two other teenagers have already been tried and convicted in this case.

Dorthea Bynum, 19, was sentenced to 124 years in prison after she pleaded guilty.

Joseph Jones, now 15, received life plus 25 years after a jury convicted him

His defense attorney says that he will present an alibi for Jones.

 
 

Tiffany Long murder

Tiffany Long, age 10, European-American was murdered and raped Oct. 16, 1998 in Burlington, NC, by three black teenagers then age 13, 15, and 17 in what has been termed the most-brutal murder in Alamance County history.

Right now, the trial of the first of the two teenage boys (Joseph Jones) charged in the Oct. 1998 local "kids killing kids" murder of 10-year-old Tiffany Long continues to be heavily covered by the "mainstream" media here - but there's a whole lot that television news and "mainstream" daily papers won't be telling you, and that persistent local rumors are incorrect about.

For a start, the autopsy report - 14 pages long - reveals a lot about how Tiffany died, and what happened to her before she died. For instance, while the "mainstream" media have correctly reported that she died from being clubbed to death with a bedrail, rather than from being strangled, the autopsy report reveals that before being clubbed to death she was choked so hard (with a cable-TV cable) that it burst the capillaries on the whites of her eyes. (Strangulation murders commonly result in bursting of capillaries of either teeth or eyes from the extreme pressure on neck blood vessels.)

The attempt to strangle Tiffany also caused numerous burst capillaries on her face and neck from that extreme pressure on neck blood vessels - leaving her with numerous small red or purple spots on her face and neck. Keep in mind that Tiffany was still alive after this.

The "mainstream" media commonly reports that Tiffany died from head injuries from being clubbed to death. But the autopsy report reveals much more - starting with her having been clubbed so hard that her skull fractured all the way from where it was struck in the left rear of her head to the right front eye socket, where another fracture was caused by the blows. Not only was her skull fractured; it also resulted in a "depressed skull fracture" – in simpler words, her head was bashed in, like tapping a hard-boiled egg on the counter's edge.

Tiffany was clubbed in the head at least three and possibly four times. In addition, she was clubbed at least once on the left shoulder - leaving a major bruise and abrasion.

Persistent local rumors - some of which ended up circulating around national white-supremacist organizations - that Tiffany was sexually assaulted with either a crowbar or broomstick that was pushed into her so far that it ended up in her chest are incorrect; the autopsy report finds no injury to her uterus nor even tearing or bleeding of the inside of her vagina or rectum - and no injuries to her chest cavity or internal abdomen were found. But bruising of the vaginal opening and anus shows that she was sexually assaulted.

The autopsy report also shows that rampant local rumors that Tiffany's body was grossly mutilated are not true. There is a faint bruise to one of her nipples - it wasn't cut off as local rumors had stated, nor was any attempt made to skin her as another rampant local rumor had it.

If you live outside of North Carolina, you probably never heard of this murder anyhow, even though it was the worst "kids killing kids" murder in state history - because the murderers were black, the victim was European-American, and the murder weapon wasn't a gun.

 
 

Teens Charged in Killing Mildly Retarded, Relatives Say

Wral.com

October 22, 1998

Authorities have gathered important parts of the investigation into the slaying and sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl - suspects and the weapon. But the reason for the brutal killing still is a mystery.

''What the motive is in this killing eludes me,'' Alamance County District Attorney Rob Johnson said Thursday. ''This kind of a crime just defies description as to why it would happen.''

Harold Wesley Jones, 16, and Dorthia D. Bynum, 17, and a 13-year-old boy each were charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault and kidnapping.

Relatives said the two teens were mildly retarded and incapable of slaying Tiffany Nicole Long, 10, who disappeared late last Friday. Her body was found Saturday near an empty cottage being renovated a few blocks away from her home.

The teens did walk past Tiffany's home when they lived in the cottage with a number of other people, neighbors said, and would talk to Tiffany. The three later moved to an apartment several miles away.

''He cannot comprehend,'' sister and guardian Al-Neisa Jones, 23, said of Jones. ''He knows that killing is wrong. But that boy can't kill a bug.''

She contended police intimidated her brother and Dorthia, who went to the police station voluntarily for an interview. She also said the 13-year-old is Harold Jones' nephew.

Rodessa Bynum said her daughter ''has always been slow ... a little mental'' but never posed a threat to anyone.

Johnson said he was confident police had arrested the right people, but declined to discuss evidence.

The prosecutor also dismissed suggestions that there might have been a racial motive for the killing. The victim was white and the three teens are black, but live in a mixed race working-class neighborhood in northwest Burlington.

Police have the murder weapon, but Johnson wouldn't disclose what it was. He did say it wasn't a nail-studded 2-by-4, trying to quash a rumor circulating in the community.

A first-appearance hearing was closed to the public because of security concerns expressed by District Court Judge Spencer Ennis

Journalists and dozens of relatives of both the victims and suspects filled a courtroom for what was expected to be a morning hearing until Ennis abruptly told them there would be nothing to see.

Ennis also said he was having trouble locating lawyers to represent the three defendants. By the time the hearing was held in a secured room in the jail-courthouse complex, lawyers had been found to represent the teens.

Legal representation was a concern of Ms. Jones, who stood in the court hallway worrying about what was happening to the teens.

''It's just depressing,'' she said. ''We don't have the top-of-the-line lawyers, the top-of-the-line funds, to prove these three children are innocent.''

Johnson said the county's list of lawyers who will accept court-appointed cases was very short, and that several asked to be removed the day of the hearing.

The prosecutor said he may seek the death penalty against Bynum, the only one old enough for capital punishment. The law requires that two attorneys be appointed for anyone facing the death penalty.

Johnson wouldn't comment on the relatives' statements about Bynum and Jones having mental problems and possibly being pressured into saying they committed the killings.

But he did say the crime was unprecedented in the county.

''In this county, we have not had a case of this type,'' he said. ''It's very unsettling.''

Residents of the area were concerned that the killing may have been the work of a stranger.

''A lot of folks in Alamance County wondered if there was a predator stalking their children,'' Johnson said. ''These youngsters were acquaintances. They knew each other.''

Two attorneys each were appointed to Jones and Bynum. The judge delayed their first-appearance hearing twice because he was having trouble finding lawyers to take the job. Several lawyers who accept court-appointed cases asked to be removed from the list.

Johnson wouldn't comment on the relatives' statements about Bynum and Jones having mental problems and possibly being pressured into saying they committed the killings.

Tiffany's grandmother and legal guardian, Nancy Long, made a short public statement Thursday afternoon at the Burlington police station, where she asked the media and the public to respect the family's privacy.

''Tiffany was a very happy child who loved people and loved life,'' she said. ''I want everyone listening and watching to know that we loved Tiffany very much and miss Tiffany very much."

 
 

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. JOSEPH OSMAR JONES

No. COA00-1182

(Filed 18 December 2001)

Defendant Joseph Osmar Jones was tried before a jury at the 14 February 2000 Criminal Session of Cumberland County Superior Court after being charged with one count of first degree murder, two counts of first degree sexual offense, and one count of first degree kidnapping.

Evidence for the State showed that defendant Jones lived with his sixteen-year-old uncle, Harold Jones, and his aunt, Al-Neisa Jones, in a house in Burlington, North Carolina. Harold and Al-Neisa Jones are brother and sister. Harold Jones' girlfriend, Dorthia Bynum, aged seventeen, also stayed at the house from time to time.

Defendant, Harold Jones and Dorthia Bynum knew ten-year-old Tiffany Long, who lived nearby with her grandmother. At all times relevant to this appeal, defendant was thirteen years old.

On 16 October 1998, Tiffany telephoned her grandmother around 3:30 p.m. and got permission to visit a neighborhood f riend. When Mrs. Long returned from work around 6:00 p.m., Tiffany was not at home. Mrs. Long contacted several people in the neighborhood in an effort to locate her granddaughter. Many of the children later testified they saw Tiffany with defendant during the afternoon, and that the two were walking toward 614 Lakeside Avenue, where defendant, Harold Jones, and Dorthia Bynum used to live. Mrs. Long's efforts to locate Tiffany failed, so she called the police around 8:00 p.m.

After a police search of the area, Tiffany Long's body was discovered under a heavy cloth in the backyard of 614 Lakeside Avenue. A TV cable was looped around her neck, and her shirt was stained with fecal matter. S.B.I. Crime Scene Specialist William Lemons found a pool of blood in the right front bedroom and drag marks in the house and on a path outside the house.

He found a backpack purse by the back porch, later identified as Tiffany's, which contained, among other things, church "bus bucks," candy, an earring, and a note which read "Dorthia loves Harold." Agent Lemons found a blue and white coat and a pair of panties outside the fence of the backyard, as well as a bloody bed rail. Agent Lemons also noted the presence of footprints and bicycle tire tracks in the blood trail.

Examination of Tiffany's corpse showed that she had lacerations on her head, wounds from the back of her head down to her skull, and ligature marks around her neck, which indicated strangulation. Dr. John Butts, the Chief Medical Examiner of North Carolina and an expert in forensic pathology, determined that the cause of Tiffany's death was "blows to the head that broke, cracked the skull, caused bruising and bleeding over the brain and within the brain." He also opined that the lacerations on Tiffany's head were caused by a heavy object with a narrow edge. Additionally, Tiffany's vagina and rectum showed signs of trauma.

A pubic hair with an attached root was recovered from Tiffany's body, and examination determined that the DNA matched that of defendant. A pair of light blue Tommy Hilfiger jeans seized from defendant's bedroom had blood stains; testing revealed that the blood was Tiffany's.

After discovering Tiffany Long's body, the police interviewed many witnesses, who stated that they saw defendant wearing the light blue jeans at a local park on 16 October 1998. Witnesses also saw Dorthia Bynum and Harold Jones at the park that day.

On 17 October 1998, Al-Neisa Jones consented to a police search of her apartment. Police seized a black t-shirt believed to have been worn by defendant, as well as defendant's bicycle, the light blue Tommy Hilfiger jeans, and a pair of boxer shorts. The clothing appeared to have fecal matter on them, and that suspicion was later confirmed by Dr. Butts' investigation.

Defendant was interviewed but not taken into custody at the police station on 17 October 1998. After the interview he went home with his aunt, Al-Neisa Jones. During the interview, defendant stated that he had not seen Tiffany Long on 16 October 1998, nor had he been at 614 Lakeside Avenue, his previous home. When asked where he was during the evening hours of 16 October 1998, defendant said he attended a football game.

On 19 October 1998, a teacher alerted police that Dorthia Bynum made comments about Tiffany Long being killed by a TV cable cord. As this information had not been made public, the police suspected her of perpetrating the crime. She was taken into custody and gave a statement; she was then charged with first degree murder, first degree kidnapping, and first degree sexual offense.

On 21 October 1998, defendant was taken into police custody and interviewed in the presence of his aunt. He was advised of his rights both orally and in writing; he waived his rights and stated that he fully understood them. Defendant gave a statement, which was re-read to him sentence by sentence.

Upon reviewing it, he signed it. In the statement, defendant said he brought Tiffany to 614 Lakeside Avenue after being requested to do so by Dorthia Bynum. Once there, he admitted to placing his penis in Tiffany's rectum and being present when Tiffany was hit on the head with the bed rail. He also stated that he helped drag Tiffany's body outside and threw the bed rail over the fence in the backyard.

He stated that Dorthia Bynum and "Fat Boy" were participants in the murder. He also indicated that "Fat Boy" sodomized Tiffany, causing her to defecate. According to defendant, "Fat Boy" then strangled her with the TV cable, and hit her repeatedly on the head with the bed rail.

After the police interview, defendant was charged with one count of first degree murder, two counts of first degree sexual offense, and one count of first degree kidnapping. On 23 November 1998, the trial court held a hearing to determine whether defendantshould be transferred to the superior court for trial as an adult.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found probable cause to believe defendant committed a Class A felony (first degree murder), and signed an order transferring defendant to superior court for trial as an adult, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-608 (1995).

 

 

 
 
 
 
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