For months, questions have surrounded the death of a Marlboro County woman. Police believe they've solved the mystery, charging her husband five days after authorities exhumed her body.
Simmons relatives never believed she died of natural causes and they wanted her body exhumed for an autopsy. They got their wish last week and Wednesday night Simmons' husband of nine years was booked on murder charges.
Brandy White Simmons and her husband Vander lived on Oakwood Street in Bennettsville, next door to Harold and Jean Bennett. Jean describes them as a happy couple. "A perfect marriage. Absolutely. Two beautiful kids, and it really was a shock." A shock, to discover Vander Simmons had been arrested and charged with Brandy's murder.
Last July, doctors ruled she died from an aneurysm. Brandy's family had a hard time accepting that after her teenage daughter told police a different story the day after her mother's funeral. According to an incident report, the teenager says she saw their father hit her mother with a stick several times at the home. She said she saw blood coming from her mother's mouth and said her stomach looked swollen.
Last week, authorities exhumed her body and Wednesday they charged Vander Simmons. Jean Bennett says Brandy didn't deserve to die. "I just cried. It just broke my heart. I just cried even until today. Talking about it really upsets me."
State police say autopsy results on Brandy's body are still pending. They aren't saying what, or if any, new evidence led to the charges against Vander Simmons.
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