Death on Summit Avenue

Update II: From an email sent through the Aycock Neighborhood listserv…

“I live in the castle house with my boyfriend. We were awoken this morning by someone banging on our door and screaming that our house was on fire. We called 911, we tried to alert the other tenant living in the apartment next to me only to find that her apartment was filled with fire and smoke. The fire department showed up just about this time.”

“We later found that another person was murdered and that my neighbor had been assaulted and and badly burned. My neighbor is in stable condition in the burn unit at Baptist Hospital. Please send her your prayers.”

“This was extremely scary and we are very grateful to be alive.”

Update: WFMY: It is a homicide. “Greensboro police say a domestic dispute ended with a deadly house fire Saturday morning. …Investigators say a man died in the fire. A woman is in critical condition. The victims names have not been released.”  More from WXII TV


*Warning* The following account is quite graphic and may be disturbing to some… especially those who knew the victim.

I heard sirens blaring from several directions as six or seven firetrucks converged into the Aycock neighborhood during my walk to the Farmers’ Curb Market around 8:30 this morning.  Faintly smelling the distinctive odor that only comes from a burning house, I knew this was no false alarm.

I was curious and alarmed as I walked another half block over to the Vaught house at 519  Summit Avenue. Neighborhood folks fondly refer to it as “The Castle” due to it’s granite exterior and  distinctive turret.  The whole right side of the old home was belching smoke and quickly becoming inundated by firemen as they entered with flaccid hoses.  The hydrant end had not yet been attached.

An acquaintance of mine (Ross Myers, by name) was standing in the front yard of the burning house and  was visibly distraught so I went over to see what was up.  Ross told me he had been walking down the sidewalk on Summit Avenue and noticed smoke coming from the house.  He called 911 then went to the door to alert anyone who might be inside.  Seeing flames, he said he grabbed a garden hose to keep the fire back as he tried to alert the tenants and see if anyone needed help but then left after not finding anyone.

Just as he was saying that, two firemen came out the front door carrying the charred remains of a man.  They gently laid him down about 10 feet from where we were talking then turned and quickly re-entering the smoldering structure.  Understandably, Ross became even more upset seeing such a grizzly site.

I was morbidly mesmerized at seeing such extreme gruesomeness up close.  I noticed as they carried him out – one fireman holding his bare feet, the other carrying the weight of the victim by his armpits – the body seemed overly stiff – unbending – and when they placed him on the grass in front of us, his arms remained in a vertical position.

Now, I’ve no idea what effect fire has on the human body but my immediate thought was that rigor mortis had set in indicating to me that the man had been dead for more than the few minutes since the fire had started.   The police report will tell the tale on my suspicions, however.

The completely naked and charred man was left next to us near the street for several surreal minutes.  Another fireman eventually came to cover him with a white sheet.  The arms of the victim remained vertical creating a tent of the sheet.

I finally decided I’d seen enough so close and walked across Summit to talk with another neighbor who had arrived.  I clicked the scene with my cell phone’s camera, then finished my walk to the Market.  So far I’ve not been successful in getting the photo off my camera – but it’s not a very clear image anyway.

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  1. Doug H
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    My daughter lived there for a while a couple of years ago.

    It’s an interesting house. I hope it wasn’t burned out completely.

  2. MB
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m more concerned about the victims of the fire and their families. Please keep them in your prayers.

  3. Posted September 15, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Point of Note: There were no smoke alarms going off in the house. The first thing I did upon returning home was check ours.

  4. Posted September 15, 2008 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Ross.

    And thank you for what you did Saturday morning. It was heroic.

    MB… agreed. We should all hold them in the light.

    The man who was killed is known as Ransom Note – I don’t know his given name – a long-time Greensboro fixture on the music scene. My understanding is that he was one hell of a slide guitar player.

  5. Posted September 15, 2008 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Billy Ransom Hobbs…we met circa 1975, I was 18. Just a kid but he made time for me. In many ways, he was the big brother I never had. He was a gypsy, a bluesman, a gentleman…a kind soul. He was an accomplished musician and a wonderful man, LOVED by many. A positive force in my life and so many others…he will be sorely missed.

  6. Doug H
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    MB, of course you are right, and I certainly will keep them in my thoughts. I didn’t mean to ignore their plight.

  7. Reece Coble
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Its terrible what a human being can do to another. We will certaially have her in our Prayers. And all who saw the aftermath of this terrible crime. We will keep Mr.Hobbs family and his friends in our prayers. May God bless all…….

  8. Shawn Smith
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I dated Deborah for 4 years and lived with her in that apartment and have been in shock since the news. I made it clear to her that I would always care for her and that holds true now and forever. The only things that matter to me at this point is being supportive to all those who know Deborah and Ransom and issuing justice for those responsible. Deborah, although she put on the tough girl front, was an extremely sweet, caring, and kind-hearted person. I feel for her, her friends and family immensely.

  9. spclgst
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    i lived upstairs…in that house for over two years..with deb..shawn…and patika….man…i am so bummed about the situation…i have been in total shock as well since i heard the news….i really hope deb..pulls through….i know you will….i also want to say although i didnt know the man who passed…for his friends and family i am sorry for your loss….

  10. summit
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I pray for the soul of whoever caused this harm. I also pray that within Debs huge friend network, someone’s intuition leads them to contact the police with their ideas, concerns and knowledge. We have a great neighborhood and it must be kept safe!

  11. chad phillips
    Posted September 20, 2008 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I just returned from Ransom’s memorial service. It was so touching and the music was inspirational. It gives me renewed faith in our community and the ability to rally and pull together. My prayers are out for Ransom’s family, Deborah’s family and most especially Deborah Moy.

  12. P Moy
    Posted September 20, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Unbelievable! I didn’t know Mr. Hobbs but I do know Deborah as she is my niece. Thanks for your thoughts and feelings about this tragedy. I live out of state so I’m out of the loop to some degree. Please continue to vent as this will help me with all of this. I hope and pray others will come to know Jesus through this tragedy.

  13. Tim Smith
    Posted September 22, 2008 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Some may condemn me but I cannot pray for whoever committed this gruesome act of violence other than pray they will be caught in short order and dealt with accordingly.

    As a close friend of the Moy family during high school I count her brother as one of my best friends and I have always adored Deborah.

    I found out about this tragedy just today and was overcome with emotion as surely as the rest of this group.

    I can and do pray for Deborah, the entire Moy family, all of her friends and those of Mr. Hobbs.

  14. sundie bisher
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    does anyone have an update on Debra?? She is a friend of my daughter’s. We just heard the tragic news. Any update on Debra would be appreciated.
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Debra.

  15. Ashley M-W
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    For those of us who knew Ransom personally, this is a graphic and disturbing account of his murder that no one should have to read, especially for those of us who did know him. I’m sorry to whoever who witnessed it, but the gory details are disrespectful to remembering his life.

  16. dhoggard
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 7:52 am | Permalink


    I understand your point, but no disrespect was intended. I promise. It was simply an account of an event I witnessed just as I’ve been doing for 5 years.

    If you had not known the victim personally I doubt you would have found the post anything but graphic and disturbing – which it is.

    My apologies to anyone who is offended. I will edit the post with a warning… I should have done it initially.

  17. Katie Did
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m not so disturbed by your account. I am very disturbed by the fact that you took photos, and that you intend to post them.
    Please, do a favor, especially those who know Debbie and Ransom, and delete those photos.

  18. dhoggard
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    At this point, over three weeks later, I have no intention of posting the ONE photo I took. It was a grainy phone camera shot of the house from across the street with no discernible detail.

    I would never have considered circulating a photo of what I saw up close, even if I had one.

  19. Katie Did
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to hear that. The verbiage in your article talking about the quality of the photo, and the fact that you had not been able to get the photo to download caused concern, but it does my heart good to know that you will not do this to the family and friends of the victims.

    In the world of the Internet, not everyone is so reasonable.

  20. wishnevsky
    Posted October 1, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I am an old pickin’ friend of Hobbs, and i want to thank you for these posts. Reality is a bitch. I am pissed that this guy is still out there, but i cant control that..

    This is a great crime. Hobbs was a great musician, and Moy seems to have been hurt for being a decent human being.

    Keep us informed, if you please. I will link to my blog, Livejournal.stwish.

    Thanks again. You need a blues musician for some sort of benefit for Moy, let me know.

  21. P Moy
    Posted October 5, 2008 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Does anyone have an update on the investigation? Do they have a suspect? I can’t find any information. Can someonw help me out? Is there a website or something that is available which would help me stay informed? Thanks

  22. emily
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    any updates on Debra Moy…I have been checking back but have not heard any new news.

  23. dhoggard
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Emily… nothing. Nothing at all.

  24. ben Holder
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Nothing at all.

    Not even from the Great N&R and the Great GPD? Seriously? Do you need Ben Holder to figure it out for you?

  25. dave in siam
    Posted November 12, 2008 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    As a former Greensboroite please let me offer my condolences to all the victims of this tragic crime.

    I lived in the Castle House for around three years, in the mid 90s when Scott Crowder owned the place. (My bedroom was in the upstairs turret.) I have many good memories of the place, and of the Aycock District, but it is very saddening to read about the recent events there.

  26. James in London
    Posted November 13, 2008 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Rest in Peace. It never should have happened. Take care of the people who are still among you. Every person is a human.

  27. emily
    Posted November 15, 2008 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the update on Debra. I went to high school with Debbie and have not seen her for years. My friends and I were shocked to hear the news. Let her know that some long lost friends from GHS are praying for her recovery.

  28. A friend of Debs and Ransom
    Posted November 18, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Dear d Hoggard,

    Hello, I am a good friend of Deborahs and I met Ransom the night before his death. He and Deborah were actually with me 2 hours before his death and her tragedy. We were playing guitar and having a great time at my house after the Blind Tiger. They are both amazing people. Ransom will always live on, and has a beautiful quilt of friends. The reason I am writing in this blogg today is to let you know or understand that this is very dangerous for Deborah. This was a murder and is still being investigated. If someone is giving new updates on Deborah they are making her life more dangerous. She is heavily guarded still and will be until this is over. Please understand her parents want no one sending messages of her condition. They are with her daily, I mean daily with her. They want her protected and want her healing. even this is to much information. Do you understand the severity of this? I completely understand all her friends need to know how she is. She has thousands of friends but only so many close to the family whom are recieving information daily. Im sure if close to Deborah you will hear of her progress. I just need you to understand that no more should be said of this. For the safety of my friend please understand. There will be news through the grape vine and please leave it at that. This continued blogg will just end the daily knowledge of my friend for all of us whom are the closest. Please dont let that happen. Im greatful for everyone who is concerned and sending prayers. PLease just no more for the public. There is still a murderer out there and he does not need to know any progress on Deborah.
    I appreciate everyones prayers, thank you so much.

  29. Posted November 18, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink


    There was an update on Deborah’s progress that was posted here the other day. The author emailed me to please remove it. I did so.

    As for me, yes, I “understand the severity of this” and will honor her parents’ wishes by deleting any future comments concerning her condition.

  30. a friend
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    It is very important that anything posted be screened for its impact on both victims’ families and loved ones. Sensational accounts not only harm the family and those who love the victims, they undermine the investigation. The police are working hard on the case and they will let us know what they can when it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, let’s all respect the victims. their families, and our hard-working detectives.

    Respectful postings of memorial thoughts and feelings for Ransom and his family may be posted at his Legacy Guest Book online at

  31. lawandorder
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I am cannot beleive that this has not been solved! Deb and Ransom need some justice! I am baffled that the police have not questioned everyone.

  32. Posted April 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  33. MB
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Approaching the anniversary of the Death on Summit Avenue, where is the outrage in the community at this unsolved heinous crime? Any information, no matter how seemingly trivial, regarding Ransom and Deborah on the night of Sept 12 can make the difference in this case. Please help if you can by calling CrimeStoppers at 373-1000 or Det. Tim Parrish at 574-4008.

    My heart breaks daily for the family and friends of Ransom, and continue to pray for Deborah and hers.

  34. stranger
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone have a CLUE as to who’s behind this? I might do some pro bono publico PI work on this. It has been on my mind for a year, and assumed that there would at least be a strong suspect by now. It’s aggravating.

  35. curious
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Curious if this remains in the thoughts of folks in Greensboro?… Some consider this the most heinous crime in Greensboro; yet the case is cold. The media has not explored this mystery even though this should be a hot story worth covering. Perhaps it is time to revisit the topic…

    The one who did this… I imagine… always looking over their shoulder.. frightened at the prospect of getting caught.. (they hope by the police) yet becoming more and more comfortable thinking that they indeed got away with it… or can do this again…

  36. Ari Parham
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    Ransom was a very close family friend; my aunt still mourns his loss daily. We keep our fingers crossed that someone is going to find the person responsible for the death of an innocent man. Ransom wasn’t your typical guy, but he was one hell of a musician and a friend to people all over the world.
    If anyone has ANY information, even if you think it’s not useful, please contact the Greensboro Police Department.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Hogg’s Blog » Blog Archive » Ransom Note on September 15, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    [...] Ransom Hobbs (aka Ransom Note) has been identified as the man I saw firefighters carry from The Castle on Summit Avenue Saturday morning.  He was murdered and the [...]

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