Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Manhunt on for 17-year-old suspect in double homicide that included Eastern High student

Orange County’s sheriff has announced that he has filed a juvenile petition against a 17-year-old suspect for two counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of two teens, including an Eastern High School student, who were found fatally shot Sunday afternoon in the woods in western Orange County.

Orange County sheriff Charles Blackwood said Tuesday that his office with the Alamance County sheriff’s office and other law enforcement agencies to investigate the crime and apprehend the suspect in the shooting deaths of Devin Clark, 18, black male, of Mebane and Lyric Woods, 14, white female, who was a freshman at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough.  Blackwood confirmed the victims’ identities Monday afternoon.

Orange County sheriff Charles Blackwood

Blackwood said that juvenile court personnel with the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention filed the petition Tuesday afternoon.  He pointed out that, under a state law that went into effect in December 2019, 16- and 17-year-olds who are charged with a crime in North Carolina are no longer automatically tried in the adult court system.

However, a case in which a juvenile is charged with a felony could be transferred to superior court, if an indictment is issued or a judge finds probable cause, Blackwood said Tuesday.

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A juvenile petition is a charging document that’s similar to an arrest warrant filed against individuals over the age of 18, according to the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.  Judicial and law enforcement officials typically do not identify individuals who are under the age of 18 and charged with a crime, unless their cases are transferred to the adult criminal justice system.

Blackwood thanked the families of Clark and Woods for their patience during the investigation.  “I hope the imminent apprehension of this subject will bring them some comfort as they mourn their loved ones,” he said Tuesday.

Clark had been a wide receiver for the Eagles’ football team, most recently during the 2021-22 season, The Alamance News has confirmed. Clark’s family initially contacted the Mebane police department on Sunday with concerns about his whereabouts, Blackwood said Monday.

Men riding four-wheelers Sunday afternoon discovered the victims’ bodies in the woods in western Orange County, just off a power-line easement near the Buckhorn Flea Market at 529 Buckhorn Road in Mebane, according to the Orange County sheriff’s department.

The North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office is currently working to confirm the official cause of death, though it appeared both victims had sustained fatal gunshot wounds, Blackwood said Monday.

“I would like to specifically thank the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, the Burlington Police Department, the Efland Fire Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Viper Unit with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for their instrumental assistance,” Blackwood said of the investigation Tuesday.

Woods and Clark were remembered Monday night with a moment of silence, followed by a “balloon release,” during a soccer game at Eastern High School between Eastern and Cedar Ridge High School, multiple T.V. news outlets reported.

“Our ABSS family and community are deeply saddened today about the death of one of our Eastern High School students, Devin Clark,” ABSS officials said in a release late Monday afternoon.  “Devin was a former Eagles football player and will always be remembered as a kind-hearted, gentle giant who was well liked by his classmates.

“The loss of a student is a difficult and challenging situation that can generate a high level of anxiety and distress in students. During this time, as the school community processes this tragic news and copes with grief, ABSS will have additional counselors at Eastern High School to support our students and staff.”

Read earlier coverage of the double homicide near Buckhorn Flea Market in Mebane:

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