In July 2016, the quiet neighborhood of Tree Top Drive in Boncombe County, North Carolina was rocked by the murder of Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon. The famous doctor was found shot dead in his home while his wife Brenda was calling 911. But as authorities dug deeper, it seemed all fingers were pointing at Brenda. NBC News’ Dateline: The Day The Music Gone documents the cause of Buddy’s death and what happened after Brenda. So let’s take a closer look at the case, shall we?
How did Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon die?
Buddy was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and received his medical degree from the University of Arkansas. After graduating in 1978, Buddy completed internships at two locations. He was a cosmetic surgeon in Asheville, North Carolina, and was living with his wife Brenda at the time of the incident. The 64-year-old is a great musician who plays multiple instruments. Beyond that, he was close to his family and was interested in the Civil War and American history.
On July 16, 2016, around 3:30 a.m., Brenda heard a loud bang downstairs in her Buncombe County home and went to investigate. At the time, Buddy slept on the sofa in the living room, while Brenda slept in the upstairs bedroom. She once found her husband shot in the head, which prompted her to call 911. Paramedics arrived within minutes and found Buddy dead. The murder weapon was later found in rows of ivy in the yard.
Who Killed Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon?
When Brenda called 911, she said the back door was open because Buddy didn’t lock it. She believes the intruder walked in, shot him and fled the scene. However, there was no evidence that there was another person in the house. So authorities began investigating Brenda and her relationship with Buddy. They learned that she also worked as an office manager at Buddy’s clinic, handling bookkeeping.
The Treasury Department is investigating the couple for possible embezzlement and the acquisition of property under false pretenses. Brenda has known this since at least July 11, 2016, the date authorities spoke with her and Buddy in the office. They scoured records of employee tax returns and pay stubs. Police then found several boxes marked “personal tax” and “insurance claim” in a storage room rented by Brenda. On July 27, 2016, she spoke with a smashing company and smashed the contents of about 40 boxes.
Additionally, Brenda sold the family home and moved to Tennessee after the murder. While she claimed she had nothing to do with Buddy’s death, authorities disagreed. During the investigation, Buddy was found to have had extramarital affairs throughout the marriage, including having sex with two nurses at the clinic. Prosecutors said Brenda killed Buddy because she didn’t want him to know she didn’t pay her payroll taxes.
According to prosecutors, Brenda feared Buddy would divorce her. They think something happened on July 15, 2016; it could be a conversation about finances, or Brenda might have found out about these things. Although Brenda had no physical evidence of the murder, she was eventually convicted of her husband’s murder and sentenced to life in prison in February 2021.