A suspect is in custody, but unanswered questions remain about why Little Rock, Ark., TV personality Anne Pressly was brutally murdered in her home six weeks ago today, Pressly’s parents said Monday.
“It’s just unbelievable that a random robbery like this would involve the brutal slaying of Anne in this way. There just seems to be a lot more to the whole story than just a robbery gone bad,” Pressly’s father, Guy Cannady, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview in New York.
Pressly, 26 — a rising young star who had played a minor role in the movie “W.” as well as being a popular presence in Little Rock — was savagely beaten during the Oct. 20 attack and died in a local hospital five days later without ever regaining consciousness. Her parents revealed to Lauer that there is also evidence that their daughter was sexually assaulted during the attack that took her life.
“This monster stole my daughter’s innocence,” said Pressly’s mother, Patti Cannady. “He took her life. He took her identity. He took our lives. Our lives have radically changed as a result of what’s happened to Anne.”
Suspect in custody
Last Wednesday, Little Rock police arrested Curtis L. Vance, 28, and charged him with the murder. Vance was arrested at his home in Marianna, Ark., a town about 100 miles east of Little Rock. Police say DNA evidence convinces them that Vance committed the murder and sexual assault. Vance has also been charged in connection with the rape of a schoolteacher in Marianna last April.
From the beginning, investigators have felt that robbery was the motive for the attack and that Vance targeted Pressly at random. But her parents feel that the sheer brutality of the murder suggests additional motivation.
Patti Cannady discovered her daughter’s beaten and bloody body in her bed around 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 20. Cannady had gone to Pressly’s home when she didn’t answer a wake-up call that her mother customarily made.
“Six weeks ago this morning, I found my daughter beyond recognition with every bone in her face broken, her nose broken, her jaw pulverized so badly that the bone had come out of it; I actually thought that her throat had been cut,” she told Lauer. “Her entire skull had numerous fractures from which she suffered a massive stroke.”
Police have said they don’t believe Vance stalked Pressly because of her celebrity as the morning news anchor for ABC affiliate KATV in Little Rock. But the Cannadys remain unconvinced that a simple robbery explains what Patti Cannady saw.
“They indicate that the gentleman had entered the home,” Guy Cannady said. “Their suspicion is that he woke Anne up, and once he saw her he felt compelled to beat her. There are unanswered questions; there are aspects we’re concerned about, again, because of the brutality of it.
“The police are treating this as a homicide but there is a lot of evidence, a lot of forensics, that indicates there was more to it than just the assault,” he added.
The parents said that they will attend Vance’s court hearings and trial, difficult as that may be.
“It’s going to be very tough, but Anne was tough,” Patti Cannady said. “She fought for her life. She fought her attacker. Her left hand was broken from trying to fight this man off. And we can face that. Anne faced a lot. She lost her life over it, and we’ll face it.”
Pressly had lived in Little Rock since her teens. She had decided in middle school that she wanted to be a TV anchor. Her dream job was to be co-anchor with Lauer of the TODAY show, and on an earlier visit to the show, the Cannadys had shared a picture that a friend had made years ago for Pressly that showed her and Lauer at the anchor desk.
She interned at KATV during college, always stopping by the station on her way home for Christmas or spring break to see if there was any work she could do. Once she graduated, Pressly landed a job and advanced rapidly from news reporter to morning news anchor.
She did charity work in town and seemed not to have an enemy in the world.
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints