Police: Fleeing robber scares woman to death

January 29, 2009 5:36:14 AM PST
Police say Larry Whitfield's entry into a life of crime went wrong quickly, and now he's facing the possibility of life in prison, accused of literally scaring a woman to death.

Police say the 20-year-old North Carolina man and an accomplice planned to rob the Fort Financial Credit Union in Gastonia. As they approached the bank, armed with semiautomatic rifles, the bank's staff locked its security doors. The men fled but crashed their getaway car, and while the accomplice was caught, Whitfield hid inside the home of 79-year-old Mary Parnell.

There's no evidence Whitfield ever touched the woman and authorities say he even told the grandmother of five he didn't want to hurt her. But investigators say Parnell was so terrified she died of a heart attack.

Now Whitfield, who had no prior criminal record, is charged with first-degree murder.

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