By Steve Rogers/The Packet

A mother hopes a now-dropped murder charge is a wake-up call for her son and the drug addiction he is battling.

David Bryant Ryals, 48, died Sunday afternoon after an altercation with two friends at Ryals’ home at 93 Dix St. in West Point, all of whom have or have had drug problems during the years. West Point Police initially held Nicholas Phyfer, 25, and Kaylee Rhea, 25, in connection with the death. But an autopsy Monday found pre-existing medical conditions contributed to his death and that Ryals showed no signs of brunt force trauma that might have led to his death. Friends tell The Packet Ryals suffered from COPD, among other ailments, and was taken to the hospital Saturday by Phyfer for treatment.

While continuing to investigate, police released Rhea while Phyfer is being held on an unrelated trespassing charge.

“I hope this whole thing has been enough of a wake-up call or Nick and Kaylee, that they came so close to spending the rest of their lives in prison,” Marcia Phyfer, Nicholas Phyfer’s mother, told The Packet when reached Wednesday.

The two have a child together.

While Nicholas’ mother would not talk about any details of the case, other than to stress her son was not responsible for killing anyone, she did say her son and Rhea have meth problems and “basically” are banned from coming to relatives’ homes. Instead, they “stay where they can” with friends and had been staying with Ryals. She called it a “tough” situation and she hoped others with addictions learn from her son’s experience.

Friends now are trying to get them into a drug treatment program as they try to get this behind them.

Services for Ryals are 3 p.m. Thursday (today) at Calvert Funeral Home in West Point. Ryals had a history of arrests and convictions, many of them for drugs, in Clay County. He served as a inmate trusty at the Clay County Jail for several years.

Friends and sources tell The Packet things started to turn with the trio on Friday when Rhea was arrested on a drug charge and Ryals spent more than $500 bailing her out.

Saturday evening, after being at the hospital for treatment, Ryals asked Phyfer to move his stuff out of the Dix Street address but said Rhea should stay. He left but came back late that night and “snuck” away with Rhea, leaving her car — their only transportation — at Ryals’ house so as not to wake him.

They came back at about 1 p.m. Sunday to get the car and an altercation ensued, including Ryals allegedly hitting her car with a tree branch and then getting into a scuffle with Phyfer. Police were called during the scuffle and police reported a caller telling dispatchers, “They are fighting.”

Phyfer managed to get away and run and Rhea drove off, both eventually ending up at the police station where they intended to file charges against Ryals for assault Only then did they learn of his death and have the handcuffs put on them.

“It’s just one of those cases, lots of moving parts.  In the end, it’s sad all the way around,” said one law enforcement source.