Strangulation cited in McDonough native's death

By Jason A. Smith and Johnny Jackson


Police said a recent Ola High school graduate was murdered in California Tuesday, allegedly by her husband.

The body of Kalyn Denise O'Barr-Poteat, 19, was reportedly discovered in her San Diego apartment by police. Her husband, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick Poteat, 21, is charged with murder, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. His arraignment is scheduled for today in San Diego County Superior Court

Wednesday, an autopsy revealed that O'Barr-Poteat was strangled to death.

Lt. Kevin Rooney, a supervisor of the Homicide Unit of the San Diego Police Department, said Patrick Poteat called a friend Tuesday morning, and asked the friend to call 911 and to force entry into Poteat's apartment.

"[Poteat] said his wife would be there," said Rooney. "The friend called 911, and at approximately 9 a.m., Tuesday, officers entered the apartment and found Kalyn deceased.

"Although the cause of the woman's death was not obvious, several things in the apartment suggested the case was a homicide," said Rooney, in a San Diego City News Service interview. The lieutenant continued that while detectives prepared a search warrant for the victim's home, authorities learned that Patrick Poteat was in San Bernadino, Calif.

"We notified the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department of his location and physical description, and that of the vehicle he was driving," said Rooney. "At 12:35 p.m., deputies located Poteat driving in the Yucca Valley, and placed him under arrest."

Rooney said police have not determined a motive for the killing.

Kalyn O'Barr-Poteat's death has shaken many within the east McDonough community.

On Wednesday, former classmates and teammates at Ola High School mourned the loss of their friend. The victim graduated in the 275-student Class of 2008, the high school's first graduating class.

Ola High's school counselors were made available to help counsel students on Wednesday, according to Principal Ross Iddings. "We're very sad for the family," Iddings said. "We're just very sad."

More than 200 people braved frigid temperatures on The Square in McDonough Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of the victim. O'Barr-Poteat's father, Bryan O'Barr, said his daughter's death was "a senseless act."

"There's a lot of pain right now, and a lot of heartache," said Bryan O'Barr, 45. He

said he plans to fly to California today, to retrieve his daughter's body. He said he is "angry" and missing Kalyn, whom he has not seen since September.

Still, he is grateful for the crowd of people who gathered for the vigil. "It makes me feel stronger, all the support we're getting," said Bryan O'Barr. "I just have to carry on and live day by day, the best I can."

Kalyn's mother, Kelly O'Barr, said it was "overwhelming" at the vigil, to know her daughter had "touched so many lives." She said she is seeking "justice and peace," but not vengeance, for Kalyn's death.

"Revenge, no," she said. "That's not going to bring her back."

Amanda Meyers, 19, of McDonough, played soccer with Kalyn at Ola High. Meyers said learning about her former teammate's death Wednesday morning left her in "utter shock. I never expected one of my friends to die like this," she said.

Denise Fraser, also of McDonough, and whose daughter and son are friends of Kalyn's, described the victim as a "beautiful, talented, smart girl," whose death came too soon.

"It's a scary, scary thought," said Fraser. "I hope this sends a message to our kids about how careful they need to be, everywhere they are, because there are people who do bad things."

Whitney Rutherford, 18, wept as she attempted to make sense of Kalyn's death. "It's not fair," said Rutherford. "No one should get to decide when someone else's life ends, except God, and no one else gets to play God."

Kalyn O'Barr-Poteat was a founding member of Ola High School's soccer and cross country teams, and captained the school's women's varsity soccer team. "As far as a player goes, she was a skilled player," said Lonnie Wheeler, O'Barr-Poteat's former soccer coach. "She was Ola's leading scorer for the first two years, and she even scored the first goal ever for Ola [as a forward]."

Wheeler said O'Barr-Poteat also played soccer while at Gordon College in Barnesville, after high school. "She was so full of energy," he said. "In athletics, they talk about players having motors. She had a motor that was running all the time. She was an excellent leader, and was loved by everyone."