Local News

Arrest Made In Fayetteville Double Murder

Posted August 10, 2001

— Fayetteville police say they have a suspect in custody in the murders of a young couple found shot to death in their apartment Wednesday.

Police arrested 17-year-old James Ryan Kelliher of Fayetteville Thursday afternoon. Kelliher was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of conspiracy. He is being held in the Cumberland County jail without bond.

According to an arrest report, Kelliher robbed the couple of $500 worth of cocaine and marijuana before he killed them.

The bodies of Eric Carpenter, 19, and Kelsea Helton, 19, were found dead on the floor of their apartment at the Lake in the Pines complex off Rosehill Road just before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Helton was four months pregnant.

"They were discovered by a friend of the couple who had gone over to the apartment and noticed that the door was cracked. He went in to check and that's when he called police," says Lt. Katherine Bryant of the Fayetteville Police Department.

Police say there were no signs of forced entry into the apartment. They say they have followed tips they received after the couple was found.

A maintenance worker says the couple lived at the apartment less than six months.

Both Carpenter and Kelsea Helton graduated from Pine Forest High in 2000. School officials and former classmates still find the incident hard to believe.

"They were the nicest kids to roll through the halls at Pine Forest. Great kids, intelligent, talented -- they had everything going for them," says principal Tim Farley.

"It makes me think about what's going on in the world today. For someone so young to be gone so soon, it's terrible," says former classmate Yasmeen Muwwakkil.

A neighbor says the night before the couple was found, they heard loud knocks at the door and a car speed away. They say they did not suspect anything unusual.

According to the arrest warrant, an unidentified male and another male by the name of Joshua Ballard may have conspired in the robbery. Police are looking to talk with them.

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