HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Henderson County Sheriff's deputies said 50-year-old Penny Short Hartle, of Hendersonville, is in jail without bond charged with murdering her 5-year-old daughter inside their mobile home Sunday morning, April 25.
Sheriff’s investigators reported that Hartle stabbed her daughter, and the girl later died from her injuries.
"It's pretty unsettling," said neighbor Jan Harvey, who lives two doors down from Hartle. "We're casual friends; I would take them stuff for their little girl -- popcorn, things like that. I'll be praying for the family."
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Neighbors told News 13 they had seen the little girl many times outside, playing, and are grieving for her family.
“I’m very sad for the girl,” said Elaine Neeb, visibly shaken, who lives in the same mobile home park community in Fruitland, which is about 8 miles from downtown Hendersonville.
“I was here, and the lady next door called me,” said neighbor Joe Coch. “She said a lady came into her house and was sleeping in her bed."
Coch said Hartle went into a neighbor’s home and got into a bed. That home stands about 1,000 yards from where investigators say the child was murdered.
Coch said he went in to see Hartle and said he tried to wake her in the neighbor’s house.
“She wouldn’t wake up," Coch said of Hartle. "A few minutes later she came out and got in a truck and sat down in it, and it looked like she was shredding paper. Her hands were kind of shaking and she acted like she didn’t know who she was.”
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"It is sad, it really is," Coch said. "I feel really bad about it."
Sheriff’s investigators told News 13 they couldn’t confirm or deny if they thought Hartle was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Detectives had crime scene tape up for more than 9 hours Sunday as they executed multiple search warrants at what turned into two crime scenes that included both Hartle's home and the neighbor’s home, where witnesses said Hartle went in and got in a bed.
“If she comes out of it, what she's going to feel knowing that she killed her own daughter," Neeb said of Hartle.
Hartle's initial court appearance will be Monday before a Henderson County judge. The judge will review her current no bond hold keeping her in jail.