Landlord: Mother's past contributed to charges in toddler's drowning
Posted April 21
Carthage, N.C. — A Moore County woman's criminal history played a role in her arrest in connection with the drowning death of her son, her landlord said Thursday.
Samantha Nacole Bryant, 30, of Carthage, was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter and felony child neglect in the April 14 death of 23-month-old Rylan Ott.
The toddler was found in a pond off Pond Branch Road near Vass, almost half a mile from his home.
"She didn't watch the kid close enough, and he drowned," said Vernon Olsen, who has rented a mobile home to Bryant for about a year.
Olsen said he wishes Bryant would have kept a closer eye on Rylan, but he doesn't agree with the charges against her.
"They might get her for something, but manslaughter? Wow," he said. "What she’s being charged with is an overkill. I think it is."
Investigators likely were influenced by previous child abuse charges against Bryant, he said.
She was charged with three misdemeanor counts of child abuse in October. Warrants state that she "consumed alcohol excessively" and fought with firearms in the presence of three children.
Prosecution in that case was deferred, and she was released after agreeing to follow a Moore County Department of Social Services plan that called for random drug testing and substance abuse counseling.
Bryant also previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a government official and resisting a public officer.
"If it wasn't the past history, they wouldn't have done anything but given her flowers, tell her, 'We're sorry,'" Olsen said. "I feel like they’re looking for a scapegoat, and obviously they’re going to find one – they found her."
Stephanie Calcutt, a neighbor who helped Bryant search for Rylan the day he went missing, said Bryant was reluctant to call police because she was scared she would get in trouble.
Bryant remains in the Moore County jail under a $200,000 bond.
Olsen said he can't imagine her suffering.
"It’s a tragedy. It’s terrible. I’m thinking she’s got to really be hurting. She just lost her little boy," he said. "She’s probably in all the pain she needs to be in."