Gates County woman murdered

Published 8:54 am Thursday, August 10, 2023

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EDEN, NC – A Gates County native who overcame numerous challenges to become a doctor was murdered here last week.

Dr. Gwendolyn Riddick, age 40, died after being shot multiple times on July 30 at Freedom Park in Rockingham County, according to a story posted on the WBTV website.

The shooting happened about 2:45 p.m. the Eden Police Department said. Riddick was found next to her car. She was taken to a local hospital where she died shortly after.

Eden Police say the suspect, 35-year-old John Michael Powell, attempted to drive away from the scene but was taken into custody. He is charged with first-degree murder and discharging a weapon into occupied property.

Investigators determined the fatal shooting was an isolated incident between Riddick and Powell, who share a child. They said Sunday’s incident was the latest in a string of domestic issues between the two.

UNC Health Rockingham confirmed that Riddick was a doctor within the system, having worked as part of the UNC Women’s Health at Eden team as an OB/GYN since 2021.

“Dr. Riddick was an extraordinary woman who made a difference in the lives of everyone she touched,” UNC Health said in a Facebook post. “We will remember her and the legacy of resilience and compassion she leaves behind. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones. We will continue to provide support for our teammates and patients in the days to come.”

Born in Gates County, Riddick grew up the middle child of six in a home where money was scarce, but achievement was celebrated and support from her parents was abundant.

“I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor,” said Riddick in an interview in March of last year with Susie C. Spear, a reporter with the Greensboro News & Record. That story was republished, with permission, in the Gates County Index. “You know when you ask little kids what they wanna be in life? That’s what I always said because I wanted to help people. I didn’t know what kind of doctor. I’ve always been inspired to help others. It’s just something I’ve always had in my heart.”

Growing up with two sisters and three brothers, money was tight when it came to the family’s own medical care.

“My family were financially disadvantaged, so we didn’t have a lot of luxuries when it came to having our own doctor, per se. So, a lot of our health care was actually at the health department,” Riddick said.

Riddick pushed herself educationally, an effort that led her to be the valedictorian of her graduating class at Gates County High School.

Always the overachiever, Riddick graduated early from East Carolina University in December 2004, and settled into medical school at Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg. She completed her residency at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, VA.