Rowan Co. woman accused of killing 87-year-old grandmother by pushing her down flight of stairs

Sarah Elizabeth Smith and Brandon Scot Joines
Sarah Elizabeth Smith and Brandon Scot Joines(Rowan County Sheriff's Office (Custom credit) | Rowan County Sheriff's Office)
Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 10:12 AM EST
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Investigators say a Rowan County woman has confessed to pushing her 87-year-old grandmother down a flight of stairs, killing the elderly woman.

According to the report, investigators arrested Sarah Elizabeth Smith, 28, on Wednesday afternoon. They say Smith pushed her grandmother, Peggy Austin, down a flight of stairs in October, 2019.

Smith’s boyfriend, Brandon Scot Joines, 43, was charged w aiding and abetting related to the embezzlement.

In October of 2019, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office responded to the death of an 87-year-old victim, Peggy Austin, at 112 Tanglewood Dr., Kannapolis. RCSO Detectives were called to the scene, and detective Sgt. Greene assisted in the investigation. Investigators say Austin’s age and circumstances of the death had the appearances of a tragic fall, but RCSO detectives continued the investigation.

Major John Sifford said that the North Carolina Medical Examiner felt the injuries to the victim were a bit too severe for a normal fall, and that Rowan County detectives felt the crime scene may have been staged. Sgt. Greene was able to uncover the fact that Austin’s granddaughter, Sarah Smith, and her boyfriend, Brandon Joines, who both lived with the victim, had fraudulently used the victim’s money, and theorized this could have been the motive for the victim’s death.

RCSO detective Sgt. Greene obtained an arrest warrant for embezzlement for Sarah Smith on December 23, along with a warrant for Brandon Joines for aid & abetting the embezzlement.

On Tuesday, Mooresville Police took out a number of drug charges on Sarah Smith due to a quantity of meth being located in her car at the time of her arrest in Mooresville. After a lengthy interview back in Rowan County with Sarah Smith, she confessed to pushing her grandmother down a flight of stairs, causing the victim’s death.

Smith has been charged with embezzlement, maintaining a dwelling for the illegal drug trade, second degree murder, drug possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond for Smith was set at $155,000.

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