Fort Mill man accused of killing NC girlfriend dies in hospital

slyttye@charlotteobserver.com, jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJune 20, 2014 

Emergency workers respond to the scene of a wreck on Hwy. 21 in Fort Mill Monday. Police in Charlotte say the driver of the wrecked car shown here intentionally drove into the path of a truck in a suicide attempt. They also say the man is accused of killing his girlfriend the night before.

STEPHANIE MARTELL — FORT MILL TIMES

— The Fort Mill man accused of killing his girlfriend and then possibly trying to commit suicide by driving his car into a truck the next day died Thursday night of his injuries, hospital officials said.

Jimmy Wayne Estes, 51, had been charged with murder in connection with the death of Frances Gutnick, 52, police said. She was found in her home Sunday in Charlotte's Steele Creek area suffering from life-threatening assault wounds.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police identified Estes as a suspect in the case, but before they could find him, Estes was seriously injured in a wreck about 2 p.m. Monday on U.S. 21 in Fort Mill, near Gold Hill Road. The York County Sheriff’s Office said Estes’ car slammed into a truck carrying scrap metal, knocking the truck on its side.

Estes was taken to Carolinas Medical Center with broken bones and a serious head injury. Police detectives said evidence indicated that Estes tried to commit suicide by vehicle.

Neighbors Bill and Peggy Joyner told The Herald that authorities had not allowed Estes' parents to see him while he was in the hospital earlier this week. The only information they would relay, Peggy Joyner said, is that Estes was comatose and possibly would not survive.

Estes died Thursday evening, authorities said. It was unknown Friday morning if his family had been allowed to see him before he died.

He sold used furniture in Rock Hill and Fort Mill and enjoyed riding motorcycles, his neighbors said.

Estes and his parents hailed from Lancaster before moving to Fort Mill three years ago when Bill Joyner rented them their home on Williams Road.

"I never had a problem out of him," Bill Joyner said.

Estes and Frances Gutnick had been together for about six months, but within the last month were no longer an item, Kelsey Gutnick said. When her mom was with Estes, he was never violent and never laid hands on her.

“No, never hurt her,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I would’ve known...I’m just very shocked.”

Frances Gutnick graduated from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and worked at Piedmont Natural Gas as a financial analyst. She leaves behind two children, her daughter, 18-year-old Kelsey, and a son, 21.

“She would want us to celebrate her life,” Kelsey Gutnick said. “She lived a great life; she was very happy and very selfless. She had a heart of gold.”

Last week, Kelsey Gutnick had gone to the beach on vacation. She returned home last Sunday and gave her mother a pair of starfish silver and turquoise earrings.

“I watched her open them and she loved them,” she said. “She told her friends how sweet of a daughter I was.”

Her mother enjoyed dancing and spending time on a boat, Kelsey Gutnick said. They had just gone to a country concert together two weeks ago.

“She loved her family and friends,” Kelsey Gutnick said. “She was just a great woman.”

Check back later for more details

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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