Police search for motive in stabbing deaths of three New Bern brothers
Posted March 18, 2015
Updated March 19, 2015
New Bern, N.C. — An 18-year-old New Bern man was charged early Wednesday with stabbing to death three young neighbors and wounding their mother and older sister.
The names of the boys, ages 1, 5 and 12, their mother and 14-year-old sister haven't been released.
Eh Lar Doh Htoo, of the 800 block of Pasteur Street, is charged with three counts of murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He was being held without bond in the Craven County jail.
Police Chief Toussaint Summers Jr. said Htoo lived near the family and knew them, but he didn't know any more about their relationship. Investigators haven't determined a motive for the attack.
Officers responded to a home on Pasteur Street shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, where they confronted and subdued Htoo, police said.
"The first officers who arrived on the scene observed the suspect with a knife," Summers said. "They gave him commands, and he complied with the commands."
Investigators found two of the brothers dead inside the home, and the third one died after being taken to CarolinaEast Medical Center.
The mother and her daughter were taken to the hospital, where they were treated and released. Neighbors said the girl jumped from a second-story window to escape the attack.
Police say Htoo has no prior criminal record, but neighbor Ner Wah said he had concerns about Htoo's mental health. He said the teen frequently rang his doorbell late at night, once punched the door and even claimed to be married to Wah's sister.
"The way that he talks and he acts, he looks ... crazy or something, like something's wrong," Wah said. "It's not like normal."
He said he urged Htoo's mother to get counseling for the teen.
"I say, 'OK, if your kid is crazy, take to the hospital, to the doctor,'" Wah said. "I say, 'You better do that. If you don’t do that, your kid will do something worse and worse.'"
Investigators recovered a machete from the victims' home. The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting New Bern police with the case.
New Bern Police Lt. Ronda Allen said a language barrier has complicated the investigation. Htoo is Burmese, and all of the victims were Karenni, an ethnic group that lives in southern Burma.
The victims have been in New Bern for only a few months, said Susan Husson, director of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina's Interfaith Refugee Ministry. She said about 1,800 refugees from Burma, a Southeast Asia nation also known as Myanmar, live in New Bern.
"It’s pretty rare in that community or most any refugee community that I know of to have a violent crime," Husson said. "They are very resilient or they would have never made it here. They’re very brave and very resourceful people."