The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 17-year-old suspect in connection to the shooting deaths of teenagers Lyric Woods and Devin Clark, authorities said Wednesday.
Sheriff Charles Blackwood announced the juvenile had been detained in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“We hope this apprehension provides some relief to the families and friends of Devin and Lyric, who have experienced an excruciating loss,” Blackwood said. “Obviously, the capture of the suspect does not restore their loved one to them.”
The suspect has not been identified because of their age.
The homicide investigation launched Sept. 18, after the bodies of Woods, 14, and Clark, 18, were found dead near a power-line easement in Hillsborough less than 48 hours after their families reported them missing.
According to a 911 call placed to the Sheriff’s Office that day, two men riding four-wheelers discovered the bodies around 3 p.m. in the Buckhorn Road area outside of the town.
“We understand our community is hungry for information to help process this tragedy; however, the laws regarding juvenile confidentiality are ironclad. We have no ability to set them aside, even given the heightened interest in this case,” Blackwell said Wednesday.
A first-degree murder charge is a Class A felony in North Carolina, and 16 and 17-year-olds aren’t automatically charged as adults if they commit this crime under the Raise the Age bill passed in 2019.
Still, depending on the violence of the crime and the older a teen is, there are some instances where a juvenile is tried in adult criminal court.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall told The News & Observer that his office has not decided if it will try the teen as an adult.
If tried as an adult, the name of the suspect and other details will be released to the public.
The juvenile court process is also different in each county.
At the same time a juvenile petition is filed, officers can also ask for a secure custody order allowing them to jail a young suspect before the initial hearing in juvenile court. There, a judge will determine if there’s enough probable cause, or evidence, to charge the person as a juvenile or as an adult in criminal court.
Woods was a freshman at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough and lived in Efland. Clark was a senior at Eastern Alamance High School in Mebane.
There has been an outpouring of condolences and support from community members to their families. Over $48,900 was raised in donations for the funerals on GoFundMe pages for Woods and Clark.
Flowers, a lighted cross and other items now stand in a grassy area where the teens were found with gunshot wounds.
Clark, who was a wide receiver on Eastern Alamance’s football team, was buried Sept. 26 in Haw River.
He was “passionate” about football and basketball and loved riding bikes. In his obituary, Clark’s family said he was a “generous and loving brother, son, classmate, teammate and friend to all.”
Woods was described as “the funniest kid you could ever meet” in her online obituary saying, “she loved cracking jokes and being with her friends.” Woods also loved wearing her Nike Air Jordan shoes, lip gloss and Bath & Body Works fragrances.
She was buried in Mebane on Sept. 23 in Mebane.
When was the last time the teens were seen?
Woods’ family reported her missing on Sept. 17 after they she was not in her room that morning. According to a missing person’s report from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Woods was last seen by her stepfather around 11 p.m. Friday night.
Clark’s family reported him missing on Sunday morning, shortly before he was found. He was also last seen around 11 p.m. Friday night by his father, according to his missing person’s report.
Anyone with possible information about the case is asked to call Investigator Keith Goodwin at the Sheriff’s Office at 919-245-2918.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.