N.C. Man Killed Girlfriend and 2 Kids Before Setting House on Fire and Turning Gun on Himself

"I've seen a lot in 30 years, but children – and especially children that are killed by gunshots and burned – it's pretty heinous," Davie County Sheriff JD Hartman said

Ashton Brown and her children Bella and Brixtyn
Photo: Facebook

A North Carolina family visited their local sheriff's office hours before deputies believe the father shot and killed his girlfriend and their two kids, and then set the family home on fire before turning the gun on himself.

On Monday, the Davie County Sheriff's Office responded to a house fire in Davie County, N.C., where a family of four was found dead, according to investigators.

Police determined that Aschod Ewing-Meeks and his girlfriend, Ashton Brown, both 26, along with their two children, Bella Ewing-Meeks, 4, and 8-month-old Brixtyn Ewing-Meeks, had actually come to the sheriff's office just two hours before they were found dead.

Just after 12 p.m. on April 18, Aschod and the family walked into the sheriff's office and spoke with the receptionist, Davie County Sheriff JD Hartman said during a Wednesday press conference.

Hartman said they were very "vague" with what they wanted to discuss, but that they "just wanted to talk to an officer." The receptionist reportedly gave the family a phone number to contact the department and they left. The visit lasted four minutes.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary. They really wouldn't interact with the receptionist or tell her what they wanted," Hartman said.

Then, at 12:35 p.m. local time, Hartman said Brown called dispatch and wanted to speak to an officer. Hartman said Brown "had some safety concerns" but otherwise wouldn't say what she wanted.

About 10 minutes later, a deputy returned Brown's call. Hartman said that conversation lasted 32 seconds, before it dropped or ended. The deputy called Brown's phone three more times. After the initial conversation, each call thereafter was answered by Aschod. Each call lasted anywhere from 55 seconds to six minutes. And every call was dropped or ended, Hartman said.

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"He advised with the officer that he thought that someone was following him, but he wasn't in danger, they weren't threatening him," said Hartman. "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."

Then, at 1:06 p.m., the calls started going to voicemail.

About 45 minutes later, a witness told investigators the couple was arguing outside their home. Minutes later, according to Hartman, a passerby noticed smoke coming from the home.

Hartman said the passerby drove to the fire station to report the fire and that firefighters arrived on the scene by 2:17 p.m. That's when they discovered the bodies of the family scattered throughout the house, all with apparent gunshot wounds.

"All four victims are deceased from gunshot wounds," Hartman told reporters. "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."

Asked whether this has been the worst crime scene he has ever witnessed, Hartman admitted, "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."

A GoFundMe campaign — launched by loved ones to help fund funeral costs — described Brown, Bella and Brixtyn as "well-loved" by their community.

"Her [Brown's] role as an early childhood educator allowed her to shine her light & love on several families in the community," read the fundraiser description. "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. We are saddened by this sudden tragedy and wish to honor and remember them as such."

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