Local News

Clayton mother charged with murder described son's death as 'tragic gun accident'

Posted January 25, 2018 11:51 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:56 a.m. EDT

— A Clayton mother charged with second-degree murder in the Christmas Day shooting death of her son made her first appearance in court Thursday morning.

Elizabeth Yarborough, who is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of James Benjamin Yarborough Jr., appeared in front of a judge with her attorney for a very brief hearing.

Authorities said officer’s arrived at Elizabeth Yarborough’s home at Riverwood Haven senior apartments on Dec. 25 and found her son, who was known as Benjamin, lying inside with a single gunshot wound to the head.

Elizabeth Yarborough initially told authorities she believed her son shot himself and his death was a suicide. Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand said she made a spontaneous statement to an officer at the scene that she may have shot her son when she picked up the gun and it went off in her hand.

"Initially, she claimed it was a suicide. Then she claimed it was an accident and ... she changed her story again and it led to, 'I had the gun and I shot my son,'" Myhand said.

In A Facebook post from Dec. 26, Elizabeth Yarborough described her son’s death as a “tragic gun accident," but friends of Benjamin Yarborough said they suspected early on that something wasn't right.

"They told me what everybody else was saying, that it was an accident. I couldn't believe that," said friend Jessica Creech. "We had just talked on Christmas Eve and in my gut feeling, I knew he would not kill himself."

Creech met Benjamin Yarborough through a Facebook dating site in March and said they had just started dating when he was killed.

"He was loving, kind, he gave the best hugs," Creech said. "I was devastated. When I found out, I couldn't talk to anybody about it. It was crushing to me."

Creech said she didn't know of any problems between Benjamin Yarborough and his mother, but says she wants the truth about his death.

"It's not my place to judge her. That is all God's doing. I can't judge her," she said. "I just want everyone to know what happened to him."

Benjamin Yarborough was a water meter reader for the City of Raleigh and loved the outdoors, especially the beach. He did have a concealed carry permit and had a firearm with him the day he was shot, according to the 911 call made by his mother.

Elizabeth Yarborough, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, is expected to appear in court again on Feb. 6 for a bond hearing, her attorney said.