Salisbury woman accused of murder charged with forging grandmother’s checks

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — Rowan authorities say a day before they discovered the burned body of Amanda Kay Smith in a wooded area on Leonard Road, the woman who was later charged in her death had stolen and written $600 worth of checks from her grandmother’s account.

Investigators had already been looking into the forgery prior to developing Stephanie Dawn Hall as a murder suspect, along with boyfriend Timothy Clarence Smith Jr.

The two were said to have set Amanda Smith’s Honeysuckle Lane mobile home on fire. Authorities say the motive was robbery. Smith’s partially burned body was found less than 18 miles away on a stretch of Leonard Road where there are few houses.

Authorities said Hall’s sister, Jessica Hall Hagerman, told them Stephanie had taken checks from their 82-year-old grandmother, Geraldine Cervantes.

Hagerman said they believed about six to 10 checks were stolen, their grandmother’s name forged and the checks cashed. Cervantes had gotten a letter regarding insufficient funds and when she called, bank officials explained Stephanie Hall had cashed a number of checks since at least May 8.

Cervantes said she had not given her permission, nor had she written checks to her granddaughter. Officials said on June 9, Stephanie Hall tried to cash a check using her driver’s license and was told it could not be cashed. It appeared the account was overdrawn.

Hagerman told investigators her sister told her she was in West Virginia with her boyfriend and would return that Sunday, June 12.

“We know that was not the case,” said Capt. John Sifford.

Hall and Timothy Smith had been seen with Amanda Kay Smith sometime prior to her death.

Hagerman was also concerned her sister was involved in the sale of drugs. Sifford said it is not known if the victim was involved in the sale of drugs.

A passerby spotted something suspicious June 17 and called 911. Rowan County Sheriff’s investigators began their investigation Friday. On Monday Timothy Smith and Stephanie Hall, who were in Horry County, S.C., were developed as suspects. Both are now in the Rowan County Detention Center, both under no bond.

Investigators said Timothy Smith and Amanda Smith are not related, however the victim was acquainted with the suspects.