Man murdered family before taking on his own life

Published 11:08 am Thursday, April 21, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Autopsies on Wednesday revealed what investigators had suspected all along, a mother and her two children were murdered before the gunman – father of the children – set the house on fire and then turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.

The final scene was at their home on Junction Road near Cooleemee.

Dead are: Ashton Brown, 26, the mother of Bella Ewing-Meeks, 4, and Brixx, age 8 months. Authorities said they were shot to death by the children’s father, Aschod Ewing-Meeks, 26, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

All bodies were found inside of the house, which had been intentionally set on fire.

Davie Sheriff J.D. Hartman outlined several hours of events prior to the deaths. All four had visited the sheriff’s office just a couple of hours prior to the deaths, and the two adults had telephone conversations with an officer for several minutes.

At 12:11 p.m. Monday, all four were on video in a visit to the sheriff’s office. “They were very vague about what they wanted. They just wanted to talk to an officer,” Hartman said. The receptionist tried to get names and an address, but were only given a Gwyn Street address, that of Ms. Brown’s mother.

They left the lobby four minutes later, with the receptionist giving them a card with a telephone number if they decided to talk to an officer later.

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

Twenty minutes later, 911 communications received a call from Ms. Brown saying they wanted to talk to an officer. “They wouldn’t say what they wanted; they had some safety concerns, they said.”

Ten minutes later, an officer called them for a 33-second conversation. “Ms. Brown answered. She talked very shortly then she made the statement to the effect that she was just calling for her boyfriend and she handed the phone to her boyfriend – Mr. Meeks.”

All conversations after that were with Mr. Meeks.

After the first call ended by being lost or dropped, the officer called back. They talked for 55 seconds and it was dropped. The officer calls back and talks with Mr. Meeks for two minutes, 8 seconds. It was dropped. The next call lasted for 6 minutes 22 seconds before being dropped.

It was 1:06 p.m. by now, and all subsequent calls from the officer went to voice mail.

“Mr. Meeks, he wouldn’t advise what he wanted. He advised to the officer that he thought somebody was following him, but he wasn’t in any danger, that they weren’t threatening him. The officer attempted to get him to come back to the sheriff’s office. They were driving around and they wouldn’t tell the officer where they were.”

At 2 p.m., a neighbor spotted all four in the yard of their Junction Road home, and they appeared to be arguing, they told officers. That witness left, going about his business, Hartman said.

Soon after that, a passer-by spotted smoke and drove to the nearby Cooleemee Police Department, who had firefighters on the scene three minutes later, at 2:17 p.m.

Hartman said that firefighters did a great job of putting out the flames while preserving the scene. The SBI was called in to help with the investigation.

The bodies of the infants and mother were found in the living room, the 4 year old at the entrance to a bedroom. The gunman’s body was in the hallway leading to the kitchen.

“I’ve seen a lot in 30 years, but children, especially children killed by gunshots and burned, it’s pretty heinous,” Hartman said.