Murder charge filed in Fentanyl overdose death


LAURINBURG — A 44-year-old woman has been charged with second-degree murder in a 2014 overdose death, according to Scotland County sheriff’s Capt. Mitch Johnson.

Valorie Victoria White Beal, 44, was arrested Tuesday upon completion of an investigation into the Sept. 27 death of Rhonda Patterson McKenzie, Johnson said. Beal is accused of providing McKenzie with the prescription painkiller Fentanyl, which an autopsy determined to have caused her death, according to Johnson.

Beal is being held in the Scotland County jail. Her bail had not been set as of noon on Wednesday.

According to N.C. General Statute 14-17, a charge of second-degree murder can be filed in a death “that was proximately caused by the unlawful distribution of opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or cocaine or other substance … and the ingestion of such substance caused the death of the user.”

McKenzie was pronounced dead near 9271 Price St., Johnson said, the same address where two other people died in 2005, both from an overdose of the same substance. Charges could also be filed in those deaths, he said.

Jail records show Beal’s current address as 9301 Price St.

Former sheriff’s investigator Jon Edwards told The Laurinburg Exchange in September 2014 that McKenzie, of Bostic Road, was found in her car and that there was no apparent signs of foul play, but several of her family members expressed on Facebook that they thought there was more to her death.

According to McKenzie’s obituary, she had formerly worked with Eaton Golf Pride and attended Laurinburg Pentecostal Holiness Church. The obituary says she enjoyed swimming, cooking, working in her yard and caring for animals.