NC man pleads guilty to killing mom, setting fire to cover it up

Herbert Heath and an image of the burned home where his mother was later found dead. Photos from WNCT

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — A Washington man has admitted to killing his mother and setting their home on fire to cover up his crime, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Herbert Heath Jr. pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to between 29 and 37 years in prison.

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Investigators responded to a fire at a mobile home on Cherry Run Road on August 16, 2014, where they found the home engulfed in flames.

Later, Mildred Heath, 66, was found face down in her bedroom.

Although she sustained extensive burns on her back, an autopsy performed at ECU found Mildred Heath had six broken ribs and other bruising on her body, including injuries consistent with strangulation, officials said.

No evidence of soot was found in her lungs, indicating she died prior to the fire.

Herbert Heath later admitted to another inmate during a game of chess that he killed his mother and set the fire to cover it up, according to Brad Shackelford, an investigator with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

Heath, 41, had prior convictions for simple assault, assault on a female, and two DWIs.

One of Herbert Heath’s brothers, Troy Heath, asked the judge to sentence the Herbert Heath to the maximum allowed under the plea.

“There will be no more apple pies on Sunday, or even a phone call to say I love you,“ Troy Heath said.

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