88-year-old dies after assault at NC assisted living facility; former employee charged: Police

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Woman injured in assault at assisted living facility dies: Police
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Former employee at a North Carolina assisted living facility facing murder case after 88-year-old dies from her injuries when pushed to the floor

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WTVD) -- An employee at an assisted living center in Wake County, who is now no longer employed at the center, stands accused of killing a woman who lived there.

Cynthia Sellars was in court Wednesday for her first court appearance in the case. She was assigned a public defender to help with the case moving forward.

Sellars got into an argument with 88-year-old Lillie Cooper on September 24. Cooper was a resident at Windsor Point Retirement Community, which is where Sellars was employed.

Investigators said Sellars pushed Cooper to the ground during the argument.

"It's on camera; the whole thing is on video," Fuquay-Varina Police Department Capt. Brett Walsh said.

Cooper sustained severe injuries that required surgery. Her health quickly deteriorated. The North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office determined Cooper's death was caused by the injuries she sustained when she was pushed to the ground.

Walsh said officers were told the altercation may have stemmed from something the victim didn't want to do.

"I think it was about the resident was supposed to do something or go to a different part of the building, and she didn't want to go there."

Immediately after the incident, Sellars was charged with assault on an individual with a disability. On Tuesday, October 24, a month after the assault, Sellars was charged with murder, according to a police news release.

ABC11 spoke with one of Cooper's daughters Wednesday morning, who said the family is "still just trying to process everything."

"My sisters and I are deeply saddened by what happened to our mom and we are fully cooperating with all investigations," Tonya Carroll said.

Lillie Cooper (Photo Credit: Family)

Sellars was booked into the Johnston County Detention Center with no bond.

"Obviously, it's tragic what happened, but fortunately, this seems to be an isolated incident," Capt. Walsh said.

Windsor Point Retirement Community issued a statement to ABC11 saying in part, "we are saddened that we lost a long-term resident...(and) would like to express our deepest condolences to her family."