Millsboro man charged by DSP in Nov. 2 rape, murder


Delaware State Police this week arrested a 43-year-old registered sex offender living near Millsboro in connection with the Nov. 2 rape and murder of a 70-year-old Millsboro-area woman.

Police said their investigation into the incident began about 2:48 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, after troopers were asked to go to the River Village development in Millsboro to check on the welfare of Dorothy L. Gudger and discovered her on the floor, deceased.

The DSP said it was later learned that concerned neighbors had already entered the home, after not having seen Gudger for several days, and had discovered Gudger’s body and then called 911. Police said they eventually learned that she had been dead since the evening of Oct. 31.

According to the DSP, detectives found out that Michael D. Purnell, 43, of the River Village community had recently been seen doing odd jobs for the victim at her residence. Purnell is a registered Tier II sex-offender.

Detectives took Purnell into custody without incident at his home, about 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3. He was then transported to Delaware State Police Troop 4. He was charged with Murder 1st Degree, Rape 1st Degree, two counts of Possession of a Deadly Weapon during the Commission of a Felony and Burglary 1st Degree. He was arraigned at JP Court 3 and was being held without bail at the Sussex County Correctional Institution.