Georgia coach hands himself over to police after killing his girlfriend

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
 – A Georgia high school football coach is under arrest in Maryland after walking into a police station and confessing to strangling his girlfriend to death.

The Prince George's County Police Department said 43-year-old Carl Kearney Jr. walked into one of their stations on Saturday morning, Feb. 17, and "advised officers he strangled his girlfriend inside of her Accokeek (Maryland) home earlier that morning."

The police department said officers responded to the home to conduct a welfare check and found girlfriend Patrina Best, 38, unresponsive. Officials pronounced her dead at the scene.

The home where the murder happened belongs to Best's parents. Best attended Georgia Southern University and worked as a traveling nurse.

Best's family remembered her as a “fun-loving, warm-hearted person [who] made friends easily everywhere she went.”

They said as the daughter of a U.S. Navy chief petty officer, Best lived all over the world before graduating high school in Georgia and then getting her nursing degree

“Patrina was a constant source of joy and laughter in our lives. She was guaranteed to be present for every birthday, holiday, and special occasion,” the Best family said in a statement to News4. “She was a wonderful person in every regard. She was the light of our lives, and we will miss her dearly for the rest of our days.”

Best leaves behind her parents, her “best friend” and older sister Gianina Best, her brother-in-law, and a niece and nephew “who consider her the greatest ‘Tita’ in the entire world. She also leaves behind her beloved dog, Luke, who traveled with her to every location she worked as a travel nurse,” her family said.

Kearny allegedly told detectives he strangled Best during an argument.

"During an interview with Homicide Unit detectives, Kearney confessed to strangling the victim during an argument," a Prince George's County Police Department release stated.

Kearney now faces both first and second-degree murder charges.

Parents and students from Spalding County High School in Griffin identified Kearney as the school's varsity football coach.

“At first, I didn’t believe it," said Camri Johnson, who was a football manager for three years at Spalding County High. "I thought people were playing because it was such a shocker for me."

She said the news that her former teacher and football coach was arrested and charged with murder doesn't make sense, "because of the person I know he is."

"I couldn’t see him in that situation,” Johnson added.

Lariquia McCord said her son played football for Kearney at Spalding County High for three years, and was like a father figure to his players.

“It hurt,” McCord said. "It hit like a ton of bricks, like ... I’m still in shock."

While she said she was shocked this happened, she said she was not surprised that he confessed.

“He’s just been a stand-up guy, and even with this situation, I still see him as a stand-up guy for turning himself in. He’s showing them accountability and being responsible for your actions,” McCord said.

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