Girlfriend charged with murdering former York mayor

YORK, SC (WBTV/AP) – Authorities have arrested a woman in connection with the murder of a prominent York, SC, attorney who also once served as the town's mayor.

Melvin Roberts, 79, was found dead in the driveway behind his home on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Sources confirm that Julia Phillips, who owns Julia's Consignment on Limestone Street in Gaffney, SC, was arrested Tuesday morning near her store on a murder warrant in connection with the case.

Investigators say Phillips was a suspect in Roberts' murder all along, but that recently they developed enough evidence to proceed with a warrant against her.

Phillips is being transported back to York, SC, Tuesday afternoon where she will be interviewed at the police department and booked into the jail.

On Feb. 4, the York Police Department received a call around 7:30 p.m. from a woman who told the 911 operator that she had been robbed at 214 Roberts Avenue which is where Robert's lived.

Roberts was divorced and a source said right after the murder happened, the woman who called 911 was Roberts' girlfriend.

When York police officers arrived, they found the woman who called 911.  She told police she had been assaulted and bound.  She also said she was able to free herself and managed to call for help.

According to the police report, the woman appeared to have been bound with duct tape in three areas on her body.

The woman told police her attacker was a male between 5'9" and 5'11", approximately 200-240 pounds and that he spoke with an accent.

Police said Roberts was also assaulted by the subject and he died at the scene.  According to the police report, Roberts had a "plastic tie around his neck" and suffered some head trauma.

According to the Associated Press, Roberts was a popular defense attorney for a half century.  He served on York city council in the 1960s and was elected to a 2-year term as mayor in 1972.  Roberts lost a 1976 run for the South Carolina Senate.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.