Local News

Fayetteville man accused of killing mother, setting fire to home

Posted July 25, 2010
Updated July 26, 2010

— A Fayetteville man is accused of killing his mother and then attempting to set fire to the mobile home they shared.

Johnathon Gray, 18, of 456 Star Lane, was arrested on Sunday morning, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said. He is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

When firefighters responded to the 911 call, they discovered the body of 42-year-old Barbara Towery.

Tomesha McNeill said she was leaving her house when she noticed smoke, then flames at Towery's house.

"I thought something had caught fire when she (Towery) was gone, maybe she was out somewhere, and that is when I heard that she was still in there,” McNeill said.

Tanna said Towery died from blunt force trauma and that it's believed that she was killed during an argument with Gray.

"I mean that is your mother, I don't care what she did, how could you do something like that?” McNeill said.

"She was the kindest person in the world,” Lennie Cannady said.

Cannady had been friends with Towery for years. He said Towery's son recently moved into her mobile home and had a history of mental illness.

Cannady said Towery was upset that her son didn't have a job, but otherwise they got along.

"Matter fact, he acted like he loved his mother to death and thought the world of her,” Cannady said.

Gray was being held Sunday without bond in the Cumberland County Detention Center.


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  • helenecbrr Jul 27, 2010

    physical illness, mental illness it was his moms fault or maybe his up bringing... I am so sick of excuses you do the crime you do the time NOBODYS fault but your own. If a person does wrong no matter what they deserve to be punshed. NO MORE EXCUSES

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 26, 2010

    I have read this story several times. He is in dire need of some medical attention. If that is the case. He needs to be locked away to get help for a long time. If he is not mentally insane, then to prison for the remainder of his life.

  • cocker_mom Jul 26, 2010

    Unlike a physical illness, the mentally ill often see no reason for themselves to take the medication. People who are bipolar see the meds as dulling and when you are on an "up" or manic cycle - you feel completely invincible. Why would you needs meds for THAT?

    They often see meds as making them worse.

    Totally different concept than the patient acceptance of medication for other illnesses.

    I wold have to say that even if cancer made you mean enough to kill someone, I'd still say punishment would need to be severe. I would not treat a more physical illness differently than mental illness. Simply no excuses for murder.

  • 2beachy4u Jul 26, 2010

    They make medication for this and with treatment, it can be controlled. 2beachy4u

    yeah, but they don't give it away for free.

    They sure don't...but if the person needs them bad enough then the family should help out with this expense until the person can get some type of assistance or insurance. There is plenty of people on Medicaid and one more certainly won't hurt...

  • Slip Kid Jul 26, 2010

    geeeees , sone people on golo will try to forgive anything. Maybe there's too many of you/us getting on jury's and letting criminals like this off easy? What do you think?

    There are no 'degrees' of murder. Either it was murder or justified homicide. I accept manslaughter for just plain ignorance or negligence, but if you kill in anger, you are a murderer.

  • NCAries Jul 26, 2010

    They make medication for this and with treatment, it can be controlled.

    yeah, but they don't give it away for free.

  • 2beachy4u Jul 26, 2010

    brendadenton...why was he staying there then? If things were so bad then why did he continue to put up with it? I find it hard to believe that if he was sane that she was terrible enough to be murdered and her house set on fire. Give me a break!

  • mad_dash Jul 26, 2010

    I dont really care what the other son has to say! He could have MOVED OUT!! He did not have to murder her. NO EXCUSES!

  • brendadenton Jul 26, 2010

    You don't listen! The mental illness is not reported by the authorities but from a "friend" of the mother. Not true!! And about e comment about his going to church, At least he was trying to make the best of his horrible circumstances! Wait til you hear from the other son!

  • 2beachy4u Jul 26, 2010

    NotFromHere, then why doesn't the family get the treatment for these people before it's too late? Also, it is up to the ill to take the medications given to the. You must want help in order to receive help.