The medical examiner’s office has determined that the December death of a 69-year-old Winston-Salem man is a homicide, according to a recently released autopsy report.
James Herbert McCormick, of 3954 Sugar Creek Drive, was found dead on Dec. 30 after officers were called to his apartment for a welfare check, police said.
He died from lack of oxygen, according to the autopsy report.
Lt. Gregory Dorn said it’s believed McCormick was last alive on Dec. 23.
The medical examiner’s report reveals an acquaintance tried to call McCormick several times between Dec. 21 and Dec. 30 but that someone unknown to the acquaintance answered McCormick’s cellphone. Unable to reach McCormick, the acquaintance requested the welfare check.
Dorn identified the people who tried to call McCormick as a sister and brother-in-law who live out-of-town.
When police went to McCormick’s apartment, they found his body on the floor of a bedroom, covered with a sheet, the autopsy report says. His wrists were bound behind his back with an electrical cord, and his ankles and feet were bound with another cord.
McCormick had one sock in his mouth, compressing his tongue against the roof of his mouth and obstructing his airway, the report said. A second sock around his face helped secure the first one. The sock restricted airflow, causing asphyxia and his death.
He also had scattered scrapes and bruises on his arms and legs, and possible bruising on the left side of his forehead.
Two people are facing charges in connection to crimes surrounding McCormick’s death: Lessie Denise Graves, 41, of Woods Road, and Nathan Carlos Gilmore, 28, who has no permanent address. Both are charged with kidnapping. Graves is also charged with common-law robbery and failure to appear in court. Gilmore is facing other charges of interfering with an electronic monitoring device and probation violation.
Dorn previously said Graves and Gilmore targeted McCormick, who was a friend of theirs, but declined to say why. Dorn said Graves, who was facing the additional charge of robbery, is believed to be more culpable in the crime.
According to court documents, a wallet, keys, Social Security card and cellphone were stolen from McCormick in an assault.
Dorn said police believe Graves and Gilmore were at McCormick’s apartment again at some point after McCormick died, but it’s unclear whether they were there when he passed away.
Police are consulting with the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office about potentially filing additional charges, Dorn said.