Fatal fire leads to neglect charges for 83-year-old woman’s sons, daughter

by | May 1, 2014 3:23 pm

Last Updated: May 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Two sons and a daughter of an 83-year-old woman killed in a fire at a Summerton home in late March have been charged with neglect of a vulnerable adult leading to death, according to S.C. Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry.

earthy lee starks mccray

Earthy Lee Starks McCray

Warrants sent to The Manning Times on Wednesday allege that Earthy Lee Starks McCray of 1098 Goins Place in Summerton was locked in her home due to Alzheimer’s disease. Her home caught fire on March 26, and she was trapped in the home due to “a locked exterior screen door,” according to warrants. McCray was home alone early that morning when the fire began, and her body was later found in the burned-out home.

Colbert McCray, 61, Zephaniah McCray, 59, and Miriam McCray, 50, were each charged April 24 with abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, resulting in death, and posted $2,500 personal recognizance bonds and were released on that same day. Caregiver Caroline House was charged with failure to report abuse or neglect resulting in death and posted a $1,500 personal recognizance bond.

“The cause of the fire was undetermined, but it was determined that (Earthy Lee Starks) McCray was able to make it to the back door and open it,” according to warrants. “But (she) was unable to leave the residence due a locked exterior screen door.”

During interviews the suspects admitted the doors was “locked from the outside as an attempt to keep McCray, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, from leaving the house when she was left at the residence unattended.” Colbert McCray gave a statement that his brother, Zephaniah McCray, held his mother’s power of attorney and had placed the locks on the door “to prevent Earthy McCray from leaving the residence.”

“Caroline House, Colbert McCray and Miriam McCray were aware of the door being locked and were in charge of McCray’s care,” the warrants conclude.


Colbert McCray



Miriam McCray


Zephaniah McCray


Caroline House


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