Local News

Two Dead In Durham County House Fire

Posted February 14, 2003 1:24 a.m. EST

— A mother and son are dead following a house fire in Durham early Thursday.

Lebanon volunteer fire crews responded to the call at the home on 208 Todd Street around 2:30 a.m.

Authorities say Johnny Whitted Jr. broke out a back window and escaped with his 3-year-old son, Benjamin. Whitted's wife, Isaisetta, and their 5-year-old son, Gabriel, were trapped inside.

Whitted ran to neighbor Margie Harris' house for help.

"I heard somebody hit on the door and holler real loud saying, 'Help me, Help me.' That's when I ran to the phone and dialed 911," she said.

As the fire raged, fire crews entered the home in search of the mother and son. Unable to find them, fire crews exited the home to help extinguish the blaze. They reentered the home about 30 minutes later and found the bodies in their bedrooms.

Isaisetta Whitted, who had taught for 14 years in the Orange County School district, had taken a position in Durham Public Schools this past August. Many of her colleagues and former students were stunned upon hearing the news of her death.

"Every life Isaisetta touched, she touched in a positive way," said A.L. Stanback Middle School principal Ann Osburn. "And she touched many, many lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family."

Isaisetta Whitted would have finished her Masters degree at N.C. State in the spring. She wanted to become a principal.

Whitted is listed in serious condition at the Jaycee Burn Center. His son, Benjamin, is listed in fair condition at Duke Medical Center.

Investigators do not have a cause, but they said the fire may have started in the living room. Authorities said Whitted told them a candle may have been left burning overnight.