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Parents search for answers in son's death

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Bryan Carr

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The small storage shed, tucked away behind mobile homes and a dirt courtyard, was not really for storage.

Carol Tillery Edwards built it as a haven — a safe spot for her son, Bryan Carr, to stay when he had too much to drink.

Carr struggled with alcohol, his mother said. When he drank too much, his behavior became wild and unpredictable. Other people did not want him around.

But when he wasn’t drinking, Edwards said, her son was a loving person who never gave her or anyone else any trouble.

So she built the shed — “a little hangout space” in her words.

Edwards never dreamed Carr would enter that small structure one night and never emerge.

Deadly fire

On May 26, firefighters were called out to a blaze at 3701 Reggie Court, according to Pitt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kip Gaskins.

Staton House and Pactolus Fire Departments were dispatched to the fire at 2:14 p.m. Mike Hobgood, the daytime incident commander for Staton House Fire Department, said the circumstances surrounding the fire seemed unusual.

“Nobody called it in, and it was a deputy sheriff who happened to be in the area who radioed it in,” Hobgood said.

But Gaskins said no deputy was in the area of the fire. He said a neighbor contacted the property owner who then called 911.

When fire crews arrived, Hobgood said there was little left to extinguish.

“It had been burning for a while, and all we did when we got there was put out a few hot spots, and then we realized there was a body inside.”

The shed intended to be a safe haven for Carr had been reduced to a heap of ash and rubble. His badly burned corpse found among the debris.

After finding the body, Hobgood said crews turned things over to the sheriff’s office for deputies to handle the death investigation.

“When we found a body, it went from a fire scene to a crime scene,” Hobgood said.

Gaskins said Carr died from smoke inhalation. The state Medical Examiner’s office said Carr died from smoke inhalation and thermal burns.

Free spirit

Edwards that said before he died, Carr — who graduated from J.H. Rose in the late 1990s — had been working different jobs and was trying to raise and take care of his 7-year-old son before he lost custody of him.    

“He did a little bit of this here and there,” Edwards said. “He did get one job he held onto. That was at the K&W cafeteria. The rest of them, he worked with my brother, my husband, some other people. Cutting down trees, mowing grass, labor work, tearing up cement and stuff like that.”

“He was a free-spirited person, and if he could do something to help you, he would,” Edwards said.

“He was well liked but when he started drinking he got a little wild,” she said. “He'd start doing little foolish things. Overall, though, he was likable.

“To me, as long as he had something to offer people, they treated him well. But once he no longer had anything, he was a nothing and a nobody,” she said.

Unanswered questions

The cause of the fire had yet to be determined, Pitt County Fire Marshal Allen Everette said.

“Given the condition of the shed when it was found and the lack of witnesses, we may never know what caused the fire,” Everette said.

Authorities have ruled the blaze accidental.

“We are not treating this as a homicide or as a criminal investigation,” Gaskins said.

Carr's grieving parents aren't satisfied with that ruling.

Carr's father, Loredia Edwards, said prior to his death someone once tried to kill Carr when he was staying in a trailer.

“They set the trailer on fire,” Loredia Edwards said. “When the police came out there, Bryan had had a few drinks and was raising hell — telling the officer who did it — and they charged him with communicating threats and locked him up when he was trying to tell them who set the trailer on fire.”

Carol Edwards said she believes her son was murdered.

“They want to say it was accidental,” she said. “It was no accident. That was deliberately done. This building didn't have no power to it whatsoever. It had a small generator that didn't work. Some people want to say he was smoking a cigarette. Anyone with a bit of common sense knows a cigarette didn't cause a fire of that magnitude. And the sad part about it, you got people close around there and nobody called the fire department.”

For now, Carr's family is left to grieve and a young child is left without his father.

“Bryan was the type of person that stood his own,” Carol Edwards said. “He was a father of a seven-year-old that wasn't in his care at the time due to the child having mental issues. The two of them was like a hand and a glove. They stood together side by side. By losing Bryan, that baby is gonna suffer.”

Gaskins said on Sunday that the case is inactive unless further information develops.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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