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The wife of a North Carolina firefighter has been charged in connection with his death after allegedly telling authorities he killed himself.
Heather Hicks Auman, 37, stands accused of murder in the first degree over the Saturday afternoon shooting death of 37-year-old Mishael James “MJ” Auman.
Randolph County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at the Auman residence on June 25, 2022, after receiving a report “regarding an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound,” a statement obtained by People magazine says.
Officers arrived to find MJ Auman unconscious and clinging to life. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
The victim was “employed full time with the City of Asheboro and a longtime firefighter in Randolph County,” the RCSO statement says.
An investigation into the firefighter’s death led to an arrest warrant being issued for the defendant.
The victim also was an active member of the the Seagrove Rural Volunteer Fire Department.
Randolph County Fire Marshal Erik Beard mourned the firefighter’s death in a Facebook post on Sunday by way of the account for the Seagrove Rural Volunteer Fire Department:
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of one of our own. Firefighter MJ Auman passed away unexpectedly on 6-25-22. MJ served the citizens of Seagrove for 21 years.
This is a devastating blow to the fire service, in which MJ had very strong ties to, especially Randolph County. The thoughts, prayers, and condolences have not gone unnoticed. We are forever grateful for everyone who has reached out during this difficult time. The continued thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
Law enforcement have not publicly speculated about a possible motive for the slaying.
Heather Auman was arrested on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.
According to High Point, N.C.-based Fox affiliate WGHP, she was arrested at home after detectives determined there was probable cause to bring her in. Once taken to the county lockup, Heather Auman was shown her warrant.
According to Winston-Salem, N.C-based NBC affiliate WXII, the defendant was denied bond during an initial court appearance and is currently being detained in the Randolph County Detention Center. Her next court appearance is slated for July 1, 2022.
MJ Auman’s online obituary is available here.
The alleged murder is still under investigation.
Community members also mourned the fallen hero as a “kind soul” in comments to WGHP.
“He is a very kind soul,” Melissa Bunker, who lived near MJ Auman for years, told the TV station, “he was always one to help the people.”
The longtime neighbor said MJ Auman had once helped her as a first responder when she fell off her washing machine once. The fact of his death and the allegations surrounding how his life was lost were a shock, she said, while remembering him fondly.
“Absolutely astounding,” Bunker continued. “We don’t expect this in a small town. Absolutely it’s a loss for our community. He was a great first responder. He was a great firefighter.”
According to WGHP, a sign in the neighborhood where the beloved community member lived reflects the shared sense of grief. The sign reportedly reads: “slow, death in the family.”
[image via Randolph County Sheriff’s Office]
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