Local News

'Suspicious' relationship with boy might have prompted murder-suicide

Posted August 6

— 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.

22 Comments

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  • davidhartman Aug 7, 1:56 p.m.

    Tragic. :(

  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Aug 7, 11:25 a.m.

    @justcommonsense, on the contrary, most times "relationship" does mean romance. Since the article states a relationship developed, soured, and then was broken off. That doesn't describe a co-worker/friend type of relationship if you ask me. I don't think @mewabbau was that far off base. But, none of were there so...

  • icdumbpeople Aug 7, 11:25 a.m.

    Where is a picture of the shooter?

  • PracticalMagick Aug 7, 11:01 a.m.

    "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."

    and

    "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."

    Two paragraphs, two different messages; in the first paragraph he killed three people. In the next, only two... Maybe substitute "shoot" for "kill"?

  • justcommonsense Aug 7, 10:51 a.m.

    And this is why I have remained a single mom for so long--I'm not putting my kid at... View More

    — Posted by mewubbau

    Where in the story does it state that she had any kind of romantic relationship? It doesn't. I think the word has been taken completely out of context here.

    Most times relationship refers to interaction... whether it be co-worker, friend, mentor, teacher...whatever. It does not necessarily mean what so many seem to think.

  • justcommonsense Aug 7, 10:48 a.m.

    The word "mentor" was used but the word "relationship" was used too. Lots of warning bells... View More

    — Posted by thefensk

    We all have "relationships" with other people in all walks of our lives. Just because you have a relationship with someone does not mean it is a romantic or sexual one.

  • KnowsItAll Aug 7, 10:35 a.m.

    whats with ral posting pictures of minors?

    — Posted by glarg

    they post pictures of adults. why not minors?

  • chrst7932 Aug 7, 10:14 a.m.

    The mother was not involved in a relationship with the 21 year old.

  • jron55 Aug 7, 9:36 a.m.

    This is so sad. I taught Zachary last year as well as his sister. They were great kids, never caused any problems, always respectful, and always smiling.

  • mewubbau Aug 7, 9:25 a.m.

    And this is why I have remained a single mom for so long--I'm not putting my kid at risk....would not do it. Not to say I don't make new friends, but they will not meet my child or be in a situation with my child that might be questionable. I try not to live in fear, but I am EXTRA cautious when it comes to my daughter! This guy sounds like he was a creep and she sounds like a young single mom that got tangled in his web. As a single mom, sometimes you are so desperate to find someone for you and your kids--unfortunatley, some people can't see straight when they are so anxious to meet someone. I'm saddened by the death of her and her son--and her poor daughter that is now without them...but I will say I'm a bit relieved this guy is no longer around.

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