Teen survivor of the double murder-suicide in Fayetteville speaks for the first time

Teen survivor of the double murder-suicide in Fayetteville speaks for the first time.
The only survivor of a double murder-suicide shooting that left a mother and her son dead is out of the hospital and speaking for the first time about the violence that left her family dead.

A steel plate is inside Kelsey Phillips' right arm. A bullet may still be lodged in her right knee. The physical recovery is going okay, but mentally and emotionally, she'll never be the same.

"When I close my eyes I can always see that memory, you know. I can always see it. I close my eyes and I can see his face there with the gun and stuff...shooting my mom and my brother and I always can see that," she said. "I feel like every time I close my eyes I see that. Sometimes I get nightmares about it."

"It" is what happened exactly a week ago, when the 15-year-old Cumberland County girl was in the back seat of her mother's new mini-van. Diana Hathaway had her daughter, 14-year-old son Zachary, and a family friend in the car. They'd headed to Winthrop Drive with an urgent message for Zachary's girlfriend's mom.

Someone they knew was dangerous.

"She was going to the girl's mom so that way they know and she knows, and she was going to call the police afterwards," said Hathaway's boyfriend, Teddy Wetherby.

Family said Hathaway, 31, had planned to tell the family friends and call authorities about a man she thought she knew. Her young family had met who they believed to be Jeff Allen just a few months earlier. He was a nice 22-year-old from the Hathaway's new Spring Lake Church, Hollandale Advent Christian. While Hathaway was squaring away a domestic abuse case with an ex-husband, she'd allowed Zachary to stay with Allen for the summer in the man's Fayetteville apartment. Allen, the family said, had acted like a big brother, but increasingly became possessive over Zachary, buying him expensive gifts and urging him against seeing his girlfriend and mother.

"Jeff was saying 'Be mean to your Mom, so that way your Mom would send you back to me because that way she won't be able to handle it,'" said Wetherby of conversations he'd had with Hathaway concerning Allen.

By Aug. 1, Hathaway had decided Zachary could no longer stay with Allen. Something wasn't right. By Aug. 5, Zachary began telling his mom that Allen wasn't who he said he was. The boy found identification cards and other proof that Allen had a different name. Gerald Patrick Marr would be one of them.

"My brother told us that he was lying about his name," said Phillips. "My mom went to go warn Skylar's mom."

So on the evening of Aug. 5, Hathaway's family said she decided to go and tell Zachary's girlfriend's family about Allen (Marr) because the man had been hanging around Zach's girlfriend's neighborhood. He didn't approve of 14-year-old Skylar Cantwell, and all the time she spent with Zach.

Before Hathaway could get out of the van, Allen (Marr) would start running her way. Hathaway was on the phone with Wetherby who listened in horror from his Georgia home as the phone call became muffled.

"Her words were 'Oh my God, Jeffrey's here,' and then she just paused and said 'He's got a gun.'"

Kelsey said she was yelling at her mother to watch out for Jeffrey. The shooter's last words were, 'Hey, what's up Guys!"

"It was just so unexpected," she said. "Nobody expected him to pull out a gun. No time to hide or anything, and he just started shooting."

"He shot my brother in the chest, I was told, and then he shot my mom and she got shot in the head and then he shot my arm and my knee," the teen said, pointing to her injuries. "I remember when I was getting shot (in) my hand, I could just feel everything just go completely numb. So I can't feel my fingers right now. If you touch them I can't feel them."

Kelsey's friend, 17-year-old Paul Setzer, was also in the backseat. He would shield her from the bullets; avoid getting hit and call 911 to report the shooting, as Marr turned the gun on himself.

"I was actually sad and afraid at the same time," said Kelsey. "I didn't know what was going to happen to me. I thought maybe I was going to die."

SHOOTER'S IDENTITY REMAINS A MYSTERY

Hathaway's family is still searching for answers when it comes to Marr's identity. He had attended the Hollandale church for two years, participated in youth activities, but was not a member. Church leaders said they thought he was younger than 22.

The Hathaway family said Marr's fast food employer also knew him as Jeff Allen, and had hired him under that name. Following the shooting, it took authorities a day to identify Marr. They said they were looking for a Jeffrey Allen.

In Marr's belongings, there's a dated screen grab photo of him featured on a Rhode Island television station. The graphic is captioned "Missing," but it doesn't have the man's name on it, and it's unclear when the report aired.

The victims' family believes Marr was trying to manipulate Zachary, but they don't believe he harmed the boy during his three week stay in that Fayetteville apartment. They're not sure what his intentions were, but it began to appear like a sick obsession with the boy. Wetherby said Marr told Hathaway he was going to get power of attorney and control over Zachary.

"She thought there was a possibly he was really doing something (with Zach)," said Wetherby.

Family members said Marr was aware that Zach knew his name wasn't Jeffrey Allen.

"I think he was just a very emotionally, mentally disturbed man....jealous of my daughter and my grandson," said Alice Hathaway, Diana's mother.

In earlier interviews, Skylar Cantwell said she thought Marr was coming after her, because he "wanted her out of the picture," to have Zachary to himself.

"It was manipulation," Wetherby added.

Authorities continue to investigate, and have not commented on possible motives.

"Be careful who you trust," said Kelsey Phillips. "He seemed so normal and then all of a sudden, I'm getting shot. My family got shot. Anybody can seem normal and just turn on you in a second -- not be who you really think they are. So be careful."

The Hathaway family is now raising money to bury Diana and Zachary. Information on funding can be found on these sites: http://www.gofundme.com/cp6f3g, http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/rip-diana-hathaway-and-zachary-phillips/216810, as well as at Bank of America in Michael Hathaway's name. Hathaway is Diana's brother.

Meanwhile, Kelsey Phillips said she may never understand what's behind tragic shooting the claimed the life of her "beautiful, gorgeous mother," and "handsome brother," with the dirty blond hair, blue eyes and playful, funny demeanor.

"I don't even really know what I would tell them. That I love them," she said, gazing off. "And I'm sorry that that happened to them. Because I don't know. I don't really know what to say all about this stuff."

Kelsey says the physical recovering is OK, but mentally and emotionally she will never be the same.

Report a Typo
Related Topics:
news murder suicide shooting Fayetteville
(Copyright ©2014 WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
Load Comments