By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
COATS, N.C. — Some of those who know Elytte Barbour from days as recent as early October are stunned that he is charged in connection with a brutal Valley murder, according to up-to-the-minute posts on Facebook. Others angrily defend him in profanity-laced writings.
In Coats, a central North Carolina town of 2,200 with two traffic lights, Elytte Barbour and his new wife, the former Miranda Dean — were quite well-known by their friends.
On Sunday, national and international media joined The Daily Item in reporting on the Barbours’ alleged crime — of luring and stabbing to death 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara, of Port Trevorton, on Nov. 11, the day of their three-week wedding anniversary, because they “wanted to kill someone together.”
That’s when those who knew them in North Carolina began to speak out on social media.
Elytte Barbour was nicknamed “Odd” or “Elf,” a name given to him by friends, his former girlfriend and the mother of his child told The Daily Item on Saturday.
“Wish people would stop spreading this ... all over Facebook,” Daniel Craig Wilson posted. “Yes, what he did was horrible, but come on. Every time his family gets on Facebook they’re reminded. I do feel sorry for the victim’s family and his family as well. In my opinion, if you didn’t know him, you have no right to say anything about him.”
Wilson went on: “Just because you had a class with him doesn’t mean you know him. Criticize me and give me ... for this post. See how many ... I give.”
Friends say Elytte and Miranda left Coats in late October, married Oct. 22 in Lillington, N.C., then headed to Selinsgrove to celebrate Elytte’s 22nd birthday — Nov. 11 — with a Valley friend.
On Nov. 11, police say, Miranda Barbour and LaFerrara met in the Susquehanna Valley Mall after making initial contact through Craigslist. LaFerrara took a seat in Miranda’s red Honda sport utility vehicle. At some point, police say, Elytte — hidden under a blanket in the back seat — wrapped a cable around LaFerrara’s neck as Miranda plunged a knife 20 times into the married engineer.
They then left LaFerrara for dead near a Sunbury alley, and went off to a Harrisburg strip club to celebrate Elytte’s birthday, police said.
Miranda was arrested Dec. 3 and Elytte, on Friday night.
By Saturday morning, as the nearly unbelievable details were gaining national and worldwide media coverage, major television networks and tabloid newspapers turned their attention to Sunbury.
Fox News, CNN and newspapers such as The New York Post began contacting Sunbury police Chief Steve Mazzeo, seeking information on what they were calling “The honeymoon killers.”
Said Mazzeo: “I knew they (national media) would all be calling. We are in the middle of this investigation and our focus is on that. We appreciate the media, but we have our jobs to do.”
By Sunday afternoon, as a CNN reporter based in New York began live broadcasts outside The Daily Item, several Coats residents and friends of the Barbours began to sound off on Facebook.
“If everyone could just, out of respect, stop posting articles about Elyette and Miranda, it would really nice,” one poster said. “No one has any idea how or what exactly transpired. No one posting all of this ... on Facebook was there.
“Information gets misconstrued all of the time, especially in cases like this one. No one has any idea what kind of circumstances these young adults were put in and why they were doing the things they were, but it isn’t anyone else’s concern.
“No one here back at home should be making any judgments about their character or who they were, or have become as people. I will never understand why everyone is so interested in spreading such hateful news.
“And in this time of confusion and sadness I just hope everyone remembers what these people really were like. A friend of mine, willing to go down and take the rap for anyone, someone so soft-spoken and respectful, someone kind and generous, open-minded and intelligent.
“I don’t care what any article says, because they’re all biased and aimed to sell. I only ever knew Elyette as a good person, and I can’t come up with anything negative to say about him. “Just remember what you do know, and please don’t be so quick to believe everything written on the subject.”
Tyler Bass, who posted that he went to school with Elytte Barbour, wrote: “Honestly don’t know what to think about this. Elytte graduated from high school with me and went to Campbell. He was strange sometimes, but I never thought he would do anything like this.”
Another post: “HOLY ...!!! Like Elliot Elf Man?”
In one post, a Cassi Blevens appeared to be shocked.
“Literally can’t believe what’s going on,” she wrote. “It’s number 3 on CNN right now. It’s so crazy and surreal. I can’t believe it ... I used to live with Elf. Miranda baby-sat for me before. I hung out with these people. We played board games and watched TV and played Castle Crashers. We ate dinner together. Our children played together. What happened to Elytte? The person in those pictures and videos is NOT Elytte Barbour.
“I don’t where he went, but he’s gone.”
The town of Coats is stunned that one of its own would be linked to such a horrific crime.
“Wow,” a man posted. “I know his family. They are good people. This is just something that just doesn’t even sound real.”
Travis Stephens, who claimed to be Ellyte Barbour’s best friend, wrote hours after Miranda was arrested and three days before Elytte Barbour was nabbed: “The few people I love mean everything to me. No matter the wrong doings they might have done. I really hope the best for them.”
On Sunday, with Elytte behind bars in Columbia County, Stephens posted: “This is the only status I will make about this. I’ve been told by not only one but several people that I am trying to make this situation about myself.
“Elytte was my best friend. We went through hell and back together. I love him despite his cruel actions. And If I want to post something nostalgic reminding me of better days for comfort then I ... can and you think I am trying to get attention by any posts OR this status! You can go ... yourself and get the hell out of my life. His family is my family I don’t give a ... about genetics. This has been a public service announcement.”
Elytte Barbour is expected in court on Dec. 17.