'Suspicious' relationship with boy might have prompted murder-suicide
Posted August 6
Fayetteville, N.C. — Family members say a relationship with a 14-year-old Raeford boy might have prompted a 22-year-old man to kill the child, his mother and his sister before committing suicide Tuesday evening.
The boy, identified by family members as Zachary Phillips, and his mother, Diana Maria Hathaway, 31, were shot around 6:30 p.m. in the 6700 block of Winthrop Drive, near Fayetteville, where they were visiting friends.
Zachary died at the scene, and his mother died en route to a local hospital. Hathaway's daughter, Kelsey Phillips, 15, was recovering Wednesday from injuries that were not life-threatening.
Cumberland County sheriff's investigators identified the alleged shooter as Gerald Patrick Marr, of Spring Lake.
Although they have not commented on a motive, Hathaway's brother, Michael Hathaway, said Wednesday that the family had recently cut off contact with Marr after becoming concerned that he was spending too much time with Zachary.
Michael Hathaway said his sister met Marr at church in January and after developing a relationship with him, thought he could be a good mentor for the children.
But over the seven months since then, Michael Hathaway said, the relationship soured when Marr allegedly became controlling and began focusing his attention only on Zachary.
Diana Hathaway, her brother said, recently broke off the relationship after becoming suspicious of Marr's attention to her son. Michael Hathaway says he feels that's what sparked the shooting.
"This isn't normal for a guy that young to even be doing what he's doing, as far as spending so much time – or trying to spend so much time – with the family," he said.
Tuesday's case is the second in Cumberland County within a week in which several people were killed during a domestic incident.
Three people were killed and four deputies were injured on July 30 after Andrew "Jay" Michaelis allegedly fired more than 60 rounds from an AR-15 rifle into a home in the Crystal Springs Mobile Home Park. His father-in-law and a 10-year-old boy died in the shooting. Michaelis was also killed during the incident.