A Rolesville woman and her 3-year-old son found dead in their burning home in December showed signs of being strangled before the fire, according to autopsy reports made public Wednesday.
Police have ruled the deaths of Kristy Marie Bryan and her son Tyler a murder-suicide. The autopsy reports show that Bryan doused her bedroom with gasoline, strangled her son with plastic zip ties and then twisted a plastic cord around her own neck before she and her son were consumed by flames.
Bryan and Tyler both died as a result of strangulation and burns that covered 100 percent their bodies, according to autopsy reports from the state medical examiner’s office in Chapel Hill.
Bryan’s other son, Tyler’s twin, was injured and transported to the burn center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
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Fire investigators concluded that Bryan intentionally started the fire in the master bedroom of her two-story home on Roles Saddle Drive in the Heritage neighborhood after finding a gas can, police reported in earlier search warrants. The can was found by firefighters outside the door of the master bedroom, according to the autopsy reports.
Tyler’s autopsy says someone used enough force securing “two interlocking zip ties” around his neck that they had “made an impression in the underlying skin.”
State medical examiners also found evidence that Bryan tried to strangle herself, but they do not say how. Two sections of a tan or black cord that appeared to be made of plastic had melted into her neck, according to her autopsy report.
Investigators also determined that the child and his mother were still alive during the fire.
There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle in the home, which made it clear Bryan was the only one who could have set the fire, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has said.
Bryan’s 6-year-old daughter was at school at the time of the fire, and her husband, Derek Bryan, was at work, Freeman said.
According to their profiles on the networking site LinkedIn, Derek Bryan is president of Ingenia Services, a Wake Forest company that provides engineering and management services to the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies. Kristy Bryan was listed as the company’s vice president of communications.
A neighbor called 911 to report the fire around 7:50 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they used tools to force open the door, according to a search warrant that was previously sealed by a Wake County Superior Court judge.
The neighbor told a police officer who responded to the scene that “she’s in there with her babies.”