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Friends, court documents shed new light on Amherst County murder victim

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 05 2013 05:29:39 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 05 2013 06:02:34 PM EDT

Investigators are still trying to figure out what led to Arnita Cheatham's death, but tonight we're learning more about her from people who knew her.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Va. -

We're learning more about an Amherst County homicide case and the victim who was killed.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what led to Arnita Cheatham's death, but friends are shedding light on who she was as a person.

Cheatham is remembered as a woman with a positive attitude who liked to build up the people around her. She was originally from Appomattox, but apparently moved to Norfolk sometime in the last few months.

It's unclear how she ended up at the Executive Inn on Route 29 Business in Madison Heights last week. Her body was discovered by the motel's owner Friday morning, when she failed to check out of a room on time.

In court documents filed Monday, Amherst County deputies said Cheatham had a "traumatic wound to her forehead" when her body was found.

Cheatham was reported missing last Thursday by some of her family members in Appomattox. Her last known address there was on Oakville Road.

Debbie York was one of her neighbors. She says Cheatham was a happy person, who helped her through some difficult times, including the loss of a job last year.

"Even if you were going through a difficult time, she was always encouraging," York said Monday. "She always had a smile and she was beautiful."

York lived two doors up from Cheatham and her husband, Sylvester. The couple lived there for about a year, York said. She hasn't seen them in several months and a bank foreclosure notice is now posted on the house.

During their time as neighbors, York remembers how kind Arnita Cheatham was to her two sons.

"Whenever she would drive by, she would honk at my kids and wave at us," York remembered. "She was always in a good mood."

Investigators are trying to find Cheatham's car. It's a 2006 Hyundai Sonata with black tire rims.

They're also looking for Sylvester Cheatham. He is now considered a "person of interest" in his wife's death.

If you where he is or know the location of Cheatham's car, call the Amherst County Sheriff's Office or 911.