The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

January 2, 2013

Tarboro man admits torching house of ex-girlfriend

TARBORO — “Everything’s burnt up,” said Charles West, as he surveyed the damage from a fire that ravaged his home at 404 E. Battle Ave. in Tarboro Sunday night.

At 12:17 a.m., about three hours after the fire started, the Tarboro Police Department served a warrant for the arrest of Gary Wayne Owens, 51, of 810 West Country Club Drive in Tarboro. Owens was charged with first-degree arson and one count of communicating threats. He was placed in the Edgecombe County Jail under a $25,000 secured bond.

“He did provide me with a written statement and confessed to it all,” said Tarboro Police Detective Sgt. Bruce Edwards. “He did admit that he got some lighter fluid. He admitted that he went to the back of the house and poured the lighter fluid all over a moped that was parked at the back of the house.”

The moped was leaning up against the house, so the fire quickly spread to the back bedroom. “We were in the bed in the room to the back. I seen the flames through the window,” said West’s girlfriend, Angela Hathaway. At that point, she said she shook West awake, told him the house was on fire, and the two headed out the door.

“I’m glad I wasn’t asleep on the couch. I’d be dead,” said Hathaway. Her ex-boyfriend, Owens, set the fire in what Edwards terms a “jealous rage.” Edwards described Owens’ relationship with Hathaway as an “on and off again” girlfriend/ boyfriend relationship and said Owens told him Hathaway had left him on Christmas Eve.

“Gary and Charles really didn’t have any personal volatile issues other than the female,” said Edwards. “Volatile” is the word to describe the fire that wreaked havoc in West’s home.

“It started in the back room – the master bedroom. The one room is totally gone, then there’s heat and smoke damage throughout the house,” Tarboro Fire Lt. Danny Butler said. The Tarboro Fire Department responded to the fire call shortly after 9 p.m. and extinguished the fire in about 20 minutes, said Butler. The department remained on the scene until about 10:30 p.m.

Edwards said the department developed Owens as a suspect after West told him he had been receiving voicemail messages from West for several days, at times threatening to burn the house down.

“Some guy called my house last night and threatened to burn the house down,” West stated, at the scene.

“After the fire, he [Owens] leaves a message stating, ‘I didn’t burn your house down,’” Edwards said.

Owens set fire to his own home on March 4, 2010, according to Edwards. Although he wasn’t charged in that incident, he was charged with a DWI that same night and convicted on Oct. 28, 2010. He was placed on supervised probation for 24 months.

As for West and Hathaway, they weren’t left out in the cold after Sunday night’s house fire.

“We’ve got Red Cross on the way to take care of them for the night,” Butler said.

Text Only
Local News
  • United Way.jpg United Way is ‘The light at the end of the tunnel’

     “The light at the end of the tunnel.”
    That’s the phrase that Kirk Scott used to describe United Way Tar River Region community champions and one of the non-profit organization’s agencies – Christian Fellowship Home of Nash and Edgecombe Counties.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local candidates attend forum

    Two days before early voting begins for the May 6 primary, 22 candidates participated in the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission Forum Tuesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • Canoe on the Tar River set for May 1

    The Tar River Land Conservancy in partnership with the Town of Tarboro has scheduled its annual Tar River Paddle Trip for 8:30 a.m. beginning at Bell’s Bridge on N.C. Highway 33 North and will follow the Tar River to the Riverfront Park in downtown Tarboro.

    April 24, 2014

  • BOE to make budget case in joint meeting

    Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) officials will have a chance to make their case for additional county funding Monday when the board of education and Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners hold a joint meeting.

    April 24, 2014

  • Keeping children safe is concern for DSS

    Blue and silver pinwheels lining the sidewalks in front of the Edgecombe County Human Services Building in downtown Tarboro bring to mind laughter, birthday parties, being carefree – all the elements of a happy childhood.

    April 23, 2014

  • Tarboro officially receives retirement community certificate

    The Town of Tarboro was officially presented with a certificate proclaiming it as a Certified Retirement Community Designation during a short presentation ceremony Tuesday in the town hall council chamber.

    April 23, 2014

  • Medicine drop off Saturday at Thorne and Bryan drug stores

    Prescription drugs left in medicine cabinets or lying around the house can be an easy target for abuse or the beginning of a journey of drug abuse.

    April 23, 2014

  • Soul food restaurant opens downtown Tarboro

    The savory fragrance of hot sauce and wings wafted through downtown Friday at the new restaurant in town – Southern Soul With D’Wings.

    April 21, 2014

  • Carol J. Hatchel Poetry Prize

    Edgecombe County writers have an opportunity to participate in a poetry and short fiction contest in memory of Carol J. Hatchel.

    April 18, 2014

  • helping hands.jpg New organization to offer the community ‘Helping Hands’

    The Rev. Jonah Walston's idea of assisting citizens of Edgecombe County, who have fallen on financial hard times, is collecting steam as other churches are buying into the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Twitter Updates