CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. -- A murder warrant was dismissed in Cleveland County District Court Thursday morning against Donald Borders, a suspect in the 2003 death of an elderly Shelby woman.

But District Attorney Rick Shaffer said the charge will be resubmitted to the grand jury, which indicted Borders earlier this week with first-degree rape and felonious breaking and entering in connection to the case.

The grand jury didn't return an indictment on the murder charge, but elected to continue it until a later date.

Borders, 50, of Cherryville, was charged Dec. 28 by Shelby police with the September 2003 rape and murder of 79-year-old Margaret Tessneer.

Police said they were looking for possible links between Borders and two other women who died under similar circumstances during 2003 -- Lottie Ledford and Lillian Mullinax.

All three were found dead in their beds, with doors unlocked and phone lines cut or yanked out.

Search warrants obtained last week show Shelby police believe they were able to link DNA from Borders to the scene of Tessneer's death.

An autopsy showed Tessneer was badly bruised on her chest, abdomen, upper arms, legs and feet. Officials said the number and color of the bruises indicated a struggle, but couldn't determine a cause of death.

Shaffer said Thursday that grand jury proceedings are secret and that he didn't know why the murder charge was continued. He said he had a pretty good idea of what the issue might be, but wouldn't discuss it.

Meanwhile, he said the district attorney's office is working with law enforcement to resolve any of the potential issues before resubmitting the murder charge for the grand jury's consideration. The panel meets monthly.

Borders is being held without bond in the Cleveland County jail. His court-appointed lawyer, David Teddy, said Borders is doing reasonably well.

Tedder said he'll seek a bond hearing soon.

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