Kidnapping case ends tragically

Published 6:28 am Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MURFREESBORO – One family rejoices while another one grieves following a Monday morning kidnapping in Pitt County that turned deadly near here later in the day.

Paul Edward Ireland, 27, formally of Northampton County, took his own life as law enforcement officers from numerous agencies closed in on his location at a mobile home off US 258 just south of Nebo Baptist Church.

Ireland was the subject of an intensive manhunt that reached statewide after he forced his way into the home of his estranged girlfriend, 22-year-old Brandi Kayla Baggett, and forced her into his pick up truck. The couple once shared a residence in the Pitt County community of Pactolus (east of Greenville) prior to Ireland being evicted on Oct. 8 on a domestic violence protective order. That came two days after warrants were drawn on Ireland for assault on a female and communicating threats.

Pitt County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Christy Wallace told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that Baggett, a native of Jamesville, was residing in an undisclosed domestic violence safe house, but decided to return to Pactolus on Sunday, saying she felt more secure because the door locks had been changed.

“When Ms. Baggett did not show up for work as scheduled on Monday morning, her employer called our office and told one of our detectives that she was missing,” Wallace said. “We sent an officer to conduct a welfare check at the residence and that’s when it was discovered that a door to the home was kicked in and that Ms. Baggett was indeed missing.”

Wallace said neighbors told Pitt County deputies they heard some commotion coming from the residence at around 7:30 a.m. and then witnessed two individuals leaving in an older model pick up truck.

From that point, Ireland and his victim made their way northbound, back into familiar territory for the kidnapper. Wallace said at some point, Ireland took Baggett inside an abandoned home in or near Rich Square where he assaulted her. From there they traveled a bit further north, winding up at the residence near Murfreesboro that was home to a friend of his grandmother. It was there that Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks finally caught a break in the case.

“Mr. Ireland called a co-worker of his to inquire what was being said on the news about him and this kidnapping case,” Wallace said. “That co-worker called us and Sheriff Elks, knowing the young woman was in grave danger, pleaded with him to have Ireland call the Sheriff.”

That plan worked, but with a twist.

“Mr. Ireland had Ms. Baggett to call Sheriff Elks in an effort to convince him that she was with Mr. Ireland on her own accord, that she loved him and wanted to be with him and to drop the charges against him,” Wallace said. “The Sheriff knew better….he told Ms. Baggett that, ‘we will not stop looking for you until we find you’ and that he would not drop the charges against Ireland until, ‘I see your face’.”

Around mid afternoon on Monday, Ireland released his captive, along with a written statement she was to give Sheriff Elks, one that admitted her love for Ireland and how much she wanted to be with him.

Wallace said Ireland’s grandmother drove Baggett back to Greenville, where she arrived at the Sheriff’s Office around 4 p.m.

“When Brandi got here the fear and the terror was very apparent on her face; she feared for her life,” Wallace said. “She told the Sheriff that she was supposed to tell him one thing, about how she wanted to be with Ireland, but rather how things really were….she was terrified of him and told him what he wanted to hear at that time in order to protect her safety and hopefully get away.”

Wallace added one other bone-chilling bit of news, Ireland had stated to Baggett that whatever transpired, he would not be taken alive.

“He had two weapons with him and had purchased ammunition the day before; we now believe that he purchased the ammo in Ahoskie,” Wallace stated.

A caller, asking to remain anonymous, contacted the News-Herald late on Monday, saying they knew Ireland and saw him in the Ahoskie Wal Mart on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ireland remained inside the Northampton County residence while officers with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, U.S.Marshall’s Service, Northampton Sheriff’s Office and Murfreesboro Police were devising a plan to hopefully talk him out without further incident.

“We went to the residence along with other law enforcement personnel in an attempt to take Mr. Ireland safely into custody,” said Northampton Sheriff Jack Smith. “There was an effort to talk him out of the house by using the PA system on one of our squad cars. A short time later we heard a gunshot go off and then a woman came running out of the home, identified later as Mr. Ireland’s mother, saying that he had shot himself. Upon entering the residence we determined he had inflicted a fatal wound upon himself.”

Even as a veteran law enforcement officer, Smith said the ordeal, “shook me to the bone.”

“I was relieved to find out that the young lady in this case was safe and sound, but the other end of this story is sad, so very sad,” Smith said. “I feel so sorry that his mom was there, that she had to see what happened. My heart goes out to this young man’s family.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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