Local News

Fayetteville man accused of killing mother, setting fire to home

Posted July 25, 2010 6:58 a.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2010 7:26 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville man is accused of killing his mother and then attempting to set fire to the mobile home they shared.

Johnathon Gray, 18, of 456 Star Lane, was arrested on Sunday morning, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said. He is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

When firefighters responded to the 911 call, they discovered the body of 42-year-old Barbara Towery.

Tomesha McNeill said she was leaving her house when she noticed smoke, then flames at Towery's house.

"I thought something had caught fire when she (Towery) was gone, maybe she was out somewhere, and that is when I heard that she was still in there,” McNeill said.

Tanna said Towery died from blunt force trauma and that it's believed that she was killed during an argument with Gray.

"I mean that is your mother, I don't care what she did, how could you do something like that?” McNeill said.

"She was the kindest person in the world,” Lennie Cannady said.

Cannady had been friends with Towery for years. He said Towery's son recently moved into her mobile home and had a history of mental illness.

Cannady said Towery was upset that her son didn't have a job, but otherwise they got along.

"Matter fact, he acted like he loved his mother to death and thought the world of her,” Cannady said.

Gray was being held Sunday without bond in the Cumberland County Detention Center.