Local News

More questions than answers in Goldsboro teen couple suicide

Posted January 14, 2014

— A community mourned and searched for answers Tuesday following the deaths of a teenage couple that shot and killed themselves a day earlier while on a country road near their Goldsboro high school.

The pair appeared to be in love, from pictures on their social media accounts to when they walked the hallways at Rosewood High School.

They seemed inseparable, said Alex Brogden, a senior who played football with Garrison last year.

Garrison and Porter became an item at the end of last school year.

“They always seemed happy to me,” he said. “I never saw them mad at each other, or anything like that.”

But it was something that led Spenser Terry Garrison, 16, and Malia K. Porter, 15, to Capps Bridge Road near their school. Something that made Garrison put a handgun to his head and squeeze the trigger as he sat in his pick-up truck. Something that made Porter take the same gun and shoot herself outside the truck.

It was unclear whether the pair was in the vehicle together or if Porter went to the truck with a friend.

Investigators think that something may have sparked an argument between the couple, but no one knows for sure.

Garrison was pronounced dead at the scene. Porter was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where she died just after midnight on Tuesday.

A vigil

One by one, hundreds of students and community members gathered around a flagpole at Rosewood High on Monday night.

Tears flowed. Candles were lit. Hugs were exchanged.

“It’s real, and now we have to deal with it,” said Josh Overton, a local youth pastor who attended the vigil. “And the way you deal with it is being there for each other. And loving each other. And remembering these families.”

Monday's incident was a tragic reminder of the consequences that come with some decisions, said Daniel Baines, a coach and teacher at the school.

“The kids, you know, they’re very vulnerable, they’re very vulnerable to things that are going on around them,” he said after the vigil. “I just hope that kids can understand that the decisions they can make can be fatal.”

Coping with the loss

Teen suicides are not uncommon in North Carolina.

The state Division of Public Health reported 19 teen suicides in 2011-12. Among them, 15 were high school students.

There were also 392 attempted suicides.

Psychologists and counselors were at Rosewood on Tuesday to help students cope with the loss of two of their own.

The letters “R-I-P” were scrawled on vehicle windows in the school parking lot.

“Certainly there’s gonna be speculation, questions, why,” said Ken Derksen, Wayne County Schools spokesperson. “But at this time we’re just trying to work with students through their grieving process.”

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders had some words of advice for teenagers.

"If there is something going on in your life and you need help, please find someone to talk to," he said in a written statement. "Find a family member, a friend, a trusted adult, but please find someone to talk to. The events which unfolded yesterday is not the answer."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • uncw05 Jan 16, 2014

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    The reason matters because if we learn why they did it, we learn things that can prevent others. That's how we advance as a society, by learning from the past.

  • mizphylis Jan 15, 2014

    This is such a Tragic incident. My heart and prayers go out to Both families, classmates, and the community. As I have read the various posts, there seem to be a lot of Questions and/or finger pointing, that I am sure Most of us have No answers.. Many have been willing to give Opinions, but you know what they say they are like, Everyone has one ....these families deserve the right to Mourn and get the answers . Leave the investigating to the proper officials,let them do their job. Maybe, we can are the signs , so Hopefully this will Not happen again in our little community.

  • sinenomine Jan 15, 2014

    Whoa, BTNEAST, not so fast there.

    I agree parents need to talk to their kids about suicide; I said so in a post about this story yesterday. What I don't want to happen is to glamorize suicidal death to kids by pointing out some purported similarity between their situation and that of the fictional Romeo and Juliet.

  • JAT Jan 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm sure it just makes the pain worse to see them smiling and together. I don't think the g'father blames the girl - he's blaming the relationship. The girl didn't make the boy kill himself. Things were allowed to get too intense too fast and, kids being kids, they wouldn't listen to the adults. What's so sad is he could have easily found another girlfriend who could have possibly made him 100 times happier but he didn't see that.

  • mafiamic Jan 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    That's why they call it puppy love?
    How do we all know what a soul mate is?,I don't remember who my mate was in my past life,or my family was or who I was?What makes us think the ones we know and love here are going to be with us when we move over?Could your loved ones have been your enemies before or your enemies have been your loved ones before?
    For this moment there are 2 young children who were not taught or educated about relationships who had family that were against their happiness for what one shows to one does not mean they show it to all,that mean angry person you saw today could be the nicest person there any other time.
    Let the 2 families reflect on what happened and let them try to overcome this for by all accounts it sounds like they both..Families that is ..is responsible.he said she said syndrome.

  • Backtothemountains Jan 15, 2014

    How about this speculators...have your opinions because everyone is entitled to that but give some respect to the families and friends of these 2. Just because you CAN sit behind a computer anonymously doesn't mean you have to. Would you make the comments and say what you say directly to those involved? Sounds like too many people want "juicy" details and not enough human compassion. Think about it.

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 15, 2014

    Sad that kids think they know what a soul mate is at that age. They probably would have broken up after high school anyhow.

    High school relationships are nothing more than a fling.

  • jwstevens04 Jan 15, 2014

    The reason, now, does not matter, speculate all you want, it's not going to change anything. All we can do now is pray for these families and the staff and students at Rosewood High. Embrace your own children and love them and let them know that you are there for them always. Open lines of communication....hug them, let them know that YOU LOVE THEM....no matter what. Prayers for everyone involved.

  • Deb1003 Jan 15, 2014

    So very sad that these two teens felt that the only way to work through daily life, any obstacles or roadblocks was to end their own lives. My condolences to both of the families and all of the friends of these two young people. This will affect the loved ones, friends and acquaintances of the both of them for the rest of their lives. So very sad for all.

  • mafiamic Jan 15, 2014

    By the sound of it both of the childrens family blame the other for what happened?.The boys family blames her and her family blames him.
    It's time both families get over the blame game and look at themselves and find out why their dislike for the other child caused this?.
    Children at this age are at the learning stage,Love/Relationships are new to them,they felt they loved each other and who knows maybe they may hav lasted for years or like most school age relationships only lasted for the time being.?
    Right now it sounds like they were caused or forced to do this by the actions of both sides of family.It's time to treat your children with love,support them let them be but be there for support and help.
    You deny a child happiness or ignore a child or family member or leave them out and do not like their happiness,can have a very lasting effect and in this case the end result is not good for all involved.The picture of them in the story looks like they were both very happy.