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Murder suspect in motel death taken into custody in Durham

SoVaNow.com / September 02, 2021
Michael Anthony Small, the Buffalo Junction man accused of murder in the death of a Clarksville woman at the Super 8 motel in South Boston, is in police custody.

Small, 31, turned himself in shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Durham County (N.C.) Detention Center, where he was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Task Force. Small is being held at the detention center on a charge of second degree murder.

He is accused of killing Mahalia Townes of Clarksville, 26, whose body was found by police in a first-floor room at the Super 8 on Bill Tuck Highway on Aug. 24. South Boston Police say Townes suffered wounds that appear to be consistent with assault.

The slaying set off a police manhunt for Small that ended when he surrendered to authorities in Durham.

South Boston Police Chief Bryan Young said early Wednesday night that he knew few details of Small’s decision to turn himself in, and SBPD investigators were headed to Durham to interview Small about his alleged role in Townes’ death.

“We’ll find out more hopefully when we get down there and have a chance to talk to him,” said Young.

Before the slaying, Townes was employed at the 7-Eleven/A Plus in Clarksville. Her boss there, Mike Haskins, described Townes as “a wonderful person [and] a sweetie. She was never late and never called out. That’s how we knew something was wrong Tuesday” — August 24, when she did not show up for work.

The 26-year-old Townes was the mother of two young girls, ages 1 and 3. She was looking forward to their upcoming birthdays on Sept. 11, 12.

Townes grew up in the South Boston area but was most recently living on Fourth Street in Clarksville.

Co-workers have raised about $900 in donations for the family. They also placed a memorial vase of red roses on the counter of the store where she worked at 402 Virginia Avenue in downtown Clarksville.

Haskins said as far as he knows, no one has set up a crowdfunding page for Townes’ family. Anyone interested in donating to the family can drop off the donation at the store during business hours. He will make certain it gets to her family.

The suspect in Townes’ death is no stranger to the criminal justice system. On August 2, Small was found guilty of attempted possession or transportation of a gun by a convicted felon. He received a five-year suspended sentence on the charge.

Other charges against Small go back more than 13 years and include a conviction of petit larceny and breaking and entering from 2008, shoplifting in 2011, grand larceny, breaking and entering and possession of stolen property in 2013, and various drug charges and probation violations between 2013 and 2016. In nearly every instance Small received a suspended sentence on the charges.

Investigator Cameron Collie is leading the investigation of Townes’ death for the South Boston Police Department. Officers with the Virginia State Police and Clarksville Police Department, as well as deputies with the Halifax County and Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Offices, are assisting with the investigation.

Anyone with information on the matter is asked to contact the South Boston Police Department at 434-575-7203, or the Halifax County Crimeline at 434-476-8445.

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