A McDowell woman who spent more than a decade in prison in connection with her mother’s death has been released.

Eva Kathleen Barlowe, 34, was released from the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women on Jan. 2 after serving 12 years and 11 months for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. That sentence came after a successful appeal of her earlier conviction which would have put her behind bars for life.

She has been assigned to Louisburg in Franklin County to serve out her parole.

On Sept. 23, 2000, state and local authorities responded to South Mountain Institute Road on the McDowell/Burke county line and found the body of 46-year-old Cynthia Barlowe of Lake Club Drive in Nebo. She had suffered severe head trauma and had been set on fire.

According to a written statement given to police at the time of her arrest, 17-year-old Eva Barlowe and her mother returned home and were met by Eva’s then-boyfriend, 20-year-old Jeremy Dunlap of Old Fort, in their garage. An argument ensued, related to events that transpired the previous night between all three parties, before Dunlap choked Cynthia and struck her with a flashlight.

In her statement, Eva Barlowe claimed that Dunlap called her prior to the murder and instructed her to pick up her mother from a wedding shower and bring her home, or else he would “kill her.”

“Jeremy did choke my mother,” said Barlowe. “I didn't call anyone in fear of the thought that I would be guilty of the murder of my mother. I did not know that he was going to attack her. I thought that he had left but he was inside of my garage and he snuck up behind her. I tried to make him let her go. But when he refused I ran away and came back upstairs to him cleaning up the blood at 2:00 p.m. and he then grabbed me and forced me to help him.”

Afterwards, the duo drove to South Mountain Institute Road, where the body was dumped and ultimately set it on fire by Dunlap, according to reports. The blaze was discovered hours later by a passerby leaving from Morganton, who notified authorities.

Barlowe and Dunlap were arrested the following day.

In contrast to Barlowe’s statements, Dunlap testified in Sept. 2001 that it was Eva’s idea to kill her mother and that the two planned an ambush together in advance before he ultimately carried out the actions.

Barlowe pleaded not guilty and was found guilty of first-degree murder on Sept. 28, 2001. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, according to an N.C. Court of Appeals decision in 2003, Barlowe was given a new trial and found guilty in 2005 of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. She was sentenced to 131 to 167 months in prison.

Dunlap pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He is currently serving his sentence at Caswell Correctional Center in Yadkinville.

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