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Sheriff provides more details on murder of beloved waitress

Austin Amos Kennedy Byrnside, is  with murder, and Maurice Jones Jr., is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Austin Amos Kennedy Byrnside, is with murder, and Maurice Jones Jr., is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

A popular Dixie Diner waitress died as the result of a BB-gun shot that passed through her eye and lodged in her brain, Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin said in a news conference Monday.

Responding to a 911 call at 2:46 a.m. on May 6 at 39 Mo Drive off North Clear Creek Road, sheriff’s deputies and first responders found Paulette Gibbs "Paula" Clark badly injured with serious head and face trauma.

“At the time deputies and investigators were told that the assailant was unknown,” Griffin said. Based on “a lot of canvassing” and interviews with "other witnesses" and different bits of information, detectives arrested Clark’s grandson, Austin Amos Kennedy Byrnside, 22, and her son, Maurice Jones Jr., 46.

The investigation showed that Clark had been beaten with the butt of an air rifle and an autopsy revealed that a BB fired from an air rifle had “traveled past Ms. Clark’s eye and caused trauma to the brain,” he said. “The damage to the brain is ultimately what caused her death.”

Byrnside came and went from the Mo Drive home of Clark, her husband, Marty, and one of her daughters and was not staying there the night of May 6, Griffin said. Byrnside and Jones, who is his uncle, had discussed the robbery a few days prior to alleging committing it. “During the early morning hours, Jones facilitated Byrnside entering the home. Byrnside used the butt of an air rifle to assault his grandmother and fired the air rifle shot that ultimately caused her death. Byrnside was arrested the next day at a difference residence in Henderson County on unrelated charges has remained in jail since that time.

Griffin noted that Clark was the proprietor of the Dixie Diner. “And I can tell you that Ms. Clark was well thought of by many in our community,” he said.


Henderson County sheriff’s detectives have charged a 22-year-old man who was just released from prison last month with the murder of Paulette Gibbs "Paula" Clark, the popular Dixie Diner waittress who had recently taken the restaurant over.

Byrnside is charged Thursday, May 19, with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. He had already been charged on the night of May 7 with identity theft, felony possession of cocaine and parole violation, according to jail records. He is incarcerated in the Henderson County Detention Facility without bond. Jones, 42, was charged the same day Clark was charged with murder and robbery, with conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a dangerous weapon and jailed on a $100,000 bond.

Byrnside has a criminal record dating to 2018 in Henderson and Transylvania counties, including charges of making threats, assaulting an officer or state employee, possession of drugs, assault and malicious conduct while in prison. Convicted in February 2020 in Henderson County of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, he was sentenced to five years and seven months in prison. He was released on April 14, N.C. Department of Public Safety records show.

The arrests were the result of a lengthy and complex investigation conducted by the major crimes detectives of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office into the May 6 beating of Clark, 60. She died a week later as a result of the injuries she sustained from the assault. which included broken bones, severe lacerations and "other major" wounds, according to an incident report. Sheriff Lowell Griffin has scheduled a press conference at 3 p.m. Monday to provide more details on the investigation.

Paula's husband, Marty, said Saturday he did not want to comment on the arrests as it was his understanding the investigation is ongoing.

Marty Clark, a disabled Navy veteran and retired cabinet maker, traced his wife's restaurant work to some 30 years ago at Frank's Roman Pizza. She had also worked at a restaurant in Fletcher, as a manager of the old Quality Inn and at Nancy's in Mills River before moving to the Dixie Diner.

"People were so happy to see her take it over," he said. "There were a lot of smiling faces."

A new white dress shirt and new black trousers for the funeral Marty had bought for the funeral were laid out on his bed, price tags still affixed. Draped on a chair was a new American flag he plans to fly on a flag pole outside their home in Paula's honor after the funeral on Tuesday.

"She's safe, she's in good health, she's with the rest of the family," he said.