Spalding High football coach arrested for girlfriend's murder in Maryland

A coach from the Griffin-Spalding County School System was reportedly arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend in the state of Maryland.

Officials arrested 43-year-old Carl Kearney, Jr. of Griffin, current head coach of the Spalding High varsity football team, on Saturday in Prince George's County, Maryland.

At approximately 9:20 a.m., police say Kearney walked into the Division V Clinton police station and confessed to strangling his girlfriend during an argument inside a home in the 800 block of St. James Court.

He told officials he tried slapping her in the face to "bring her back" before he fled the scene.

Officers performed a welfare check and found 38-year-old Patrina Best of Accokeek, Maryland, unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kearney was charged with first and second degree murder and related charges. He is being held in custody in Maryland, according to Prince George's County Police Department's Homicide Unit.

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Carl Kearney Jr. (Credit: Prince George’s County Police Department)

Friends say Best was a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Condolences poured in for her and her family online after news of the incident broke.

Kearney was born and raised in Griffin and attended Griffin High School. He also attended and played for Georgia Southern University before he was signed by the New York Jets in 2004 as a wide receiver. He played in the preseason for the Jets in 2004 and 2005 but did not play in any regular season games, according to team records. 


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - 2005: Carl Kearney of the New York Jets poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Getty Images)

Kearney coached at Griffin before he began coaching for Spalding in 2020.

Coach Carl Kearney's football players react to Maryland murder arrest

The Spalding High community was in shock after learning of Coach Kearney's arrest.

Parents and students immediately reached out to FOX 5 Atlanta, many saying they looked up to him as a father figure.

"Hurt. Shocked. It was like disbelief because I didn't want to believe that what they was saying was true," said Lariquia McCord whose son was a former player on Kearney's varsity team. "It hits hard. It takes your breath."

McCord said Kearney was often there for her son.

"He was more like a father figure for him," she said. "A lot of times he encouraged him when he was really, really low." 

Camri Johnson, a former student manager for the football team, reached out to FOX 5 describing the strides the team made under Kearney's leadership.

"He came to Spalding High School my sophomore year and pretty much turned this program around," Johnson said.

McCord told FOX 5 that despite the allegations, she still sees Kearney as a "standup guy for even turning himself in because he's still teaching the guys to be men and accountable for their actions."

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