Arrest made in Harrells grave killing

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]
Carr -

An Ivanhoe man arrested earlier this month on rape and kidnapping charges out of Duplin County has now been charged in the shooting death of 20-year-old Jamaris Pridgen, whose body was found June 2 in a shallow grave in the Harrells area.

On Friday, Sampson County Sheriff’s investigators and agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) charged Lajona Demarrias Carr, 41, of Jeffrey Anders Lane, Ivanhoe, with the murder of Pridgen, who died of a single gunshot wound to the torso.

The morning of June 2, Pridgen’s stepfather received an anonymous call stating that his stepson was dead and his body was located in Sampson County. The stepfather scoured southern Sampson, ultimately locating Pridgen’s vehicle, a Honda Civic, in a wooded area off C.C. Road in the Garland area. He called 911 around 9:30 a.m. June 2 after finding the abandoned vehicle.

Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area where the car was located and discovered “signs of foul play” in the vehicle, authorities said.

Investigators from Sampson and Bladen counties, along with agents from the SBI, began searching possible areas the victim was last seen. Shortly, after 9 p.m., about 12 hours after the call came into the 911 Center, a shallow grave was located in the woods on Wilbur Pridgen Road, Harrells, about six miles from where Pridgen’s Civic was found.

Pridgen, whose address was listed as 57 Isaiah Murphy Lane, Harrells, was actually living in Bladen County at the time, authorities said. A “person of interest” in his death was quickly identified.

“Through multiple interviews and collection of evidence, investigators were able to develop probable cause that Carr was responsible for the death of Mr. Pridgen,” a press release issued Friday afternoon by the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office stated. “Investigators identified Carr as a potential suspect early in the investigation and arrested him on unrelated charges that were pending out of Duplin County.”

Carr was already in the Sampson County Detention Center when the warrant for murder was issued.

He had been arrested June 3, the day after Pridgen’s body was found. Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies took him into custody at a residence on Trestle Road, Ivanhoe, serving outstanding felony warrants in the Duplin County case.

Carr was charged at that time with first-degree forcible rape, first-degree forcible sex offense, attempted first-degree forcible sex offense and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, all charges leveled out of Duplin County stemming from warrants issued in May 2017. He was given $1.2 million secured bond for those charges.

With the murder charge leveled, Carr is currently being held in the Detention Center without privilege of bond.

In addition to the rape and kidnapping, Carr was served orders for his arrest for failure to appear on charges of driving left of center, driving while license revoked, assault on a female and communicating threats. Warrants on those charges are dated early June 2017, stemming from charges leveled earlier that year.

Carr is a felon and has a history that includes convictions in Sampson and Duplin on charges of assault inflicting serious bodily injury, felony drug possession, possession of firearm by felon and felonious restraint, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The most recent conviction was in 2009, court records show.

Murder suspect already in jail under rape, kidnapping charges

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.