Judge orders suspect to stay away from ex after setting fire at Catawba Co. home

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — A man accused of setting his girlfriend's home on fire with her pets inside has been ordered to stay away from her.

Gregory Carson made his first court appearance Thursday in Catawba County after he was arrested in Statesville.

Officials said the home on BJ Drive, just north of Conover, was set on fire last Wednesday.

Deputies returned to the home Tuesday after a message was painted on one of the walls.

Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty was with a detective as he went to the rear of the home, in the living room, and saw the word “RIP,” with several names listed below it.

"He told me I have a surprise for when I got home, that I would never forget," the victim, Angela, said.

Sheriff Coy Reid said the woman who lived at the home lost two dogs, a pet flying squirrel and fish.

"He knew they were in there,” Angela said. “He could have at least opened the door and let them out, or opened the windows so they could have got out."

Last week, she claims, she received a call from Carson, her estranged boyfriend, who she said threatened her by saying, "Whenever you get home, you'll see and remember me."

Within minutes of the call, the home was set on fire with the animals inside, police said.

Carson, who is from Charlotte, is charged with second-degree kidnapping, arson and cruelty to animals.

According to court documents, deputies described smelling charcoal lighter fluid during their investigation. Carson’s car was found Tuesday morning near Conover.

"People, I don't know what's wrong with them,” neighbor James Richard said. “They're not nice like they used to be."

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