We have an update on the Columbus County family concerned about what they say was a brutal attack on their elderly aunt. The family says their 85-year-old aunt was beaten and possibly sexually assaulted last October, but when they checked on the status of the investigation a few weeks ago, they discovered the case had been closed by the Columbus County Sheriff's Department without ever notifying the family. The Columbus County Sheriffs Department re-opened the case last week, the day after our story aired, but it has still been very difficult for us, or the family, to get information. Hospital records show Smith had broken her legs, and had multiple bruises, and cuts on her body. The sheriff's department had closed the case, saying that Smith had probably fallen, a conclusion that the family disagrees with citing the evidence of a broken window, blood smears on the wall and, what they describe, as a foot mark on Smith's chest. After the case was re-opened Smith's niece, Helen Wilson, says the investigator has been back one time to take pictures and to tell her some information. "I was warned that if family members made inconsistent statements that someone could get in trouble and be charged, which made me feel like by speaking up that there's going to be retaliation against us," said Wilson. Wilson said that she just wants whoever attacked her aunt behind bars and to warn others that someone dangerous could be on the loose. Wilson also said that she does not believe any statements were inconsistent to NewsChannel 3 or the investigators. NewsChannel 3 has tried to get an update on the investigation and an answer as to why the family was not told when the case was closed. The sheriff has refused to speak with us about the case and is demanding, via subpoena, our notes and out takes. NewsChannel 3 has moved to quash that subpoena. All of the people we have interviewed in this case say they very much want to talk to the sheriff's department.
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