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Morganton police find 3 dead in home

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
GI22PQF36.3
CLEVE R. WOOTSON JR. - cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
Adrian Avery, left, and Danynel Suddeth talk outside a home in Morganton where they were told their relatives were found dead Sunday.

MORGANTON Police officers called to check on the welfare of a family in Morganton on Sunday discovered three people dead inside a house a few blocks from the city’s downtown.

Police had not released the names of the victims Sunday night, but neighbors and family members identified them as Barbara Ann Thomas, 54; her adult son, Freddy; and Zakiya Day, who turned 75 on Thursday. No age was available for Freddy Thomas.

Morganton Police were called to the home about 1:15 a.m. and found the victims inside, according to Capt. J. Blumetti. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was assisting in the case.

Investigators have not said what they think happened or who called them to the home at 419 1/2 West Concord St.

Fiance lived at house

Authorities have also not said anything about the whereabouts of a fourth person who lived at the house, Barbara Thomas’ fiance. Family members said the man had turned himself in to authorities in connection with the case.

Late Sunday, police had not announced an arrest or released the name of a suspect. The man identified by family members did not show up as an inmate at the Burke County jail.

Barbara Thomas had moved into the home on Concord Street recently with her son. She had just become engaged on her birthday, July 30, said her sister, Adrian Avery.

Avery heard about the deaths from a family member and rushed to her sister’s house, which was cordoned off by police tape.

Son was mentally disabled

Day was born Pat Thomas but changed her name when she converted to Islam, said her cousin, Danynel Suddeth, who came to the house after hearing the news. She was friends with Barbara Thomas and a frequent visitor at her home.

Freddy Thomas was a mentally disabled adult who was a regular at Dream Connections, a mental health organization in nearby Valdese.

“Freddy was such a good guy,” said Kaylon Johnson, who worked at Dream Connections and came out to the home on Concord Street after hearing about his death.

Recent friction in household

Johnson said there had been hints of trouble at the Thomas home. The Thomases moved out of a small apartment complex on West Concord Street to a converted garage across the street that needed extensive repairs to be habitable. The squat, brown garage with wood siding was located behind a house and down a driveway.

Johnson, who has known the family for years, said that Barbara Thomas and her boyfriend had been quarreling lately and had broken up a few times in recent months. Freddy Thomas stopped showing up at Dream Connections, where staff members were trying to get him placed with another family, Johnson said.

“Freddy hadn’t come in like two weeks,” Johnson said. “We knew something was wrong.”

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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