Murder shakes small town, banding some together

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ATKINSON, NC (WWAY) — With a population of 400 people, everyone knows everyone in Atkinson. Most think of the small town as one of the safest places to live.

“It’s like being able to raise a child back in the 90’s when you could let them out to play and not worry,” said one woman, neighbors and friends with Brandy Lynn Price. “It’s just really changed the whole dynamic that the town did have.”

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Brandy Lynn Price had recently gotten out of an abusive relationship with William Dean Hewett. Hewett was arrested in October for abusing her, as well as his own daughter. Price told friends she’d never move. Atkinson was her home, but she was ready to move on.

“That was the last conversation we had, was her getting ready to go out of town with her new boyfriend,” said the friend, who wished to remain anonymous. “It made me worry at the same time, because we knew how Dean was.”

After making bond in March, residents say Hewett immediately resumed harassing Price. June 19, neighbors awoke to screaming when someone found Brandy Lynn Price’s body in a field near the Old Atkinson High School on N. College Street.

“We were looking out for her the best we could. It just really hit hard because we though that she had finally gotten out. She had finally made it, and she was happy. And now she’s gone.”

Now, the Town of Atkinson is banding together. Price’s neighbor, also a domestic violence victim, said they are using GoFundMe to raise money for Price’s funeral, help her two daughters, and bring awareness to domestic violence in Pender County.

“There should be more laws in place against people like violent criminals so things like this don’t continue to happen. Because once somebody like that is arrested and they are out of jail…. there’s not much they can do to protect themselves. Because a piece of paper doesn’t always stop anyone.”