Emerald Isle PD: Suspect admits to shooting victim, setting house on fire

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EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) A man charged with murder and first-degree arson in Emerald Isle made his first appearance in court Thursday morning.

Patrick Keith-Reich Whitley, 25, of Havelock, was charged in connection to a fatal shooting and fire that happened on January 9.

According to police, Whitley admitted to shooting the victim and then setting the house on fire to hide the fact he had killed 31-year-old Carl Eugene Jones Jr.

Officials said Whitley and Jones knew each other and had known each other for over a year.

On the night of the shooting, Whitley asked Jones to come to the home under the pretext of paying him the money he owed him for work.

Whitley had an animus toward Jones for reasons that officials are not willing to disclose.

Jones was found dead inside a home after the Emerald Isle Police Department and fire department personnel responded to a report of a structure fire on Melanie Street.

When emergency personnel arrived on the scene, the residence was fully engulfed and fire crews from Emerald Isle, Western Carteret, Indian Beach, and Pine Knoll Shores worked late into the early morning hours to extinguish the fire.

Whitley was taken into custody in Corpus Christi, Texas, by members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Corpus Christi Police Department on January 19.

Whitley surrendered without incident.

He arrived back in North Carolina late Tuesday afternoon escorted by Emerald Isle detectives.

According to Police Chief Tony Reese, this was a collaborative effort and the department would like to thank District Attorney Scott Thomas, Sheriff Asa Buck and the many local, state and federal agencies that contributed to the investigation and the arrest of Whitley.

Whitley is scheduled to be back in court next Friday.

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