Hours before a North Carolina man killed his girlfriend and children and then himself, the family had made phone calls and a visit to the local sheriff’s office.
In what law enforcement called a “pretty heinous” crime, Aschod Ewing-Meeks is believed to have shot his girlfriend, Ashton Brown, as well as the couple’s children, 4-year-old Bella and 8-month-old Brixx before setting fire to their home and killing himself, authorities said, according to WGHP.
Davie County Sheriff JD Hartman relayed the timeline of events, including the family’s visit to the Davie County Sheriff’s Office just a few short hours before what he called “one of the worst” crimes he had ever seen.
The couple, who were both 26-years-old, and their children were seen on security camera footage on April 18 when they stopped at the local sheriff’s office around 12:11 p.m. asking to speak to a deputy.
“They were very vague about what they wanted,” Hartman said during a press conference last week.
An address that allegedly belonged to Ashton Brown’s parents was given to the receptionist when they were asked for contact information, according to the sheriff. Just a few minutes later, at 12:15 p.m., they left the Davie County Sheriff’s Office without ever getting to speak to an officer.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary. They really wouldn’t interact with the receptionist or tell her what they wanted,” Hartman said.
He explained that at 12:35 p.m., Brown had called 911 and “spoke with someone in Davie County telecommunication,” according to WGHP. The sheriff noted that she was not clear about what she wanted but “had some safety concerns.”
The outlet reported that, according to the timeline, at 12:46 p.m.:
A deputy called Brown. Brown answered this initial call and said she was calling for her boyfriend. She turned over the phone to him. The call lasted about 30 seconds. It’s unclear if someone hung up or the call was dropped.
The deputy called back. This call lasted 55 seconds.
He called back again. This call lasted for two minutes.
The deputy called back at 12:54 p.m. This call lasted for more than six minutes.
After the first call with Brown, all of the following calls were with Ewing-Meeks.
“He advised with the officer that he thought that someone was following him, but he wasn’t in danger, they weren’t threatening him,” Hartman said at the press conference. “The officer attempted to get them to come back to the sheriff’s office. They were driving around; they wouldn’t tell the officer where they were.”
Although a deputy reportedly called back at 1:06 p.m. and then again at 1:07 p.m., those calls went to voicemail and authorities had no further contact with the couple.
Brown and Ewing-Meeks were seen by a witness allegedly arguing in front of their Junction Road home around 2 p.m. before going inside.
According to Hartman, a passerby noticed smoke coming from the home a few minutes later and drove to the fire department to alert them. Firefighters were reportedly on the scene at 2:17 p.m. to fight the blaze and discovered the tragic scene of the apparent murder-suicide inside.
“Brown and Brixx Ewing-Meeks were found in the kitchen. Bella Ewing-Meeks was found in the doorway of a bedroom, and Aschod Ewing-Meeks was found at the end of the hallway leading to the kitchen. They had all been shot, and Meeks was still holding the gun,” WGHP reported.
Though officials believe the fire was “intentionally set,” more details about its origin and the motive were not yet released in the investigation.
“All four victims are deceased from gunshot wounds,” Hartman said. “The fire was intentionally set. Mr. Meeks was deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and we found the gun that matches all of this actually still in Mr. Meeks’ hand.”
Hartman told reporters, “I’ve seen a lot in 30 years, but children – and especially children that are killed by gunshots and burned – it’s pretty heinous, so it’s pretty close to the worst, if not the worst.”
According to a fundraiser to cover funeral costs for the mother and children, Brown’s “role as an early childhood educator allowed her to shine her light & love on several families in the community.”
“She loved her students and went the extra mile to make sure they were cared for as her own. Ashton lived to be the best mother she could be for her two children, Bella and Brixtyn,” it continued. “We are saddened by this sudden tragedy and wish to honor and remember them as such.”
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