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Georgia high school football coach faces murder charges

Spalding head coach Carl Kearney Jr. reportedly has confessed to strangling his girlfriend to death
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According to the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Police Department, Spalding (Georgia) head football coach Carl Kearney Jr. has been charged with first and second degree murder, in Maryland. 

Per a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kearney, 43, walked into a Clinton, Maryland police station, Saturday morning, and confessed to Prince George’s County homicide detectives, that he strangled his girlfriend Patricia Best, 38, during an argument over the weekend. 

Carl Kearney Jr. mugshot via the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Police Department.

Carl Kearney Jr. mugshot via the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Police Department.

Kearney was charged with first and second degree murder after police officers responded to Best's home and found her unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

“During an interview with homicide unit detectives, Kearney confessed to strangling the victim during an argument,” the Prince George’s County police department said in a press release on Sunday evening. 

Kearney was the winner of Georgia High School Football Daily’s Class 4A coaches; award for Most Improved Team in AAAA following the 2023 season. Spalding went 13-1 last season, reaching the AAAA quarterfinals. The Jaguars also won their first region title in 20 years. 

Kearney became head coach in 2020 and quickly turned around a program that had gone 1-9 the previous season as his teams advanced playoff rounds in 2021, 2022 and 2023, an unprecedented streak in school history.

Before coming to Spalding, Kearney had coached at Griffin High (Georgia), his alma mater, since 2016 and previously at Apopka (Alabama). Kearney played college football at Georgia Southern University and spent parts of two NFL training camps (2004 and 2005) with the the New York Jets, appearing in preseason games each season, but he never made an active regular-season roster.

Anyone with information on this case who would like to speak to a Homicide Unit detective may call 301-516-2512.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers online at, the “P3 Tips” mobile app (search “P3 Tips” in the Apple Store or Google Play to download the app onto your mobile device), or call 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). You can remain anonymous. Please refer to case number 24-0010020.

-- Andy Villamarzo | | @sblivega