Goldsboro murder suspects appear in court

Kennedy Fitzgerald McLaurin Jr.
September 22, 2012 9:00:00 PM PDT
Four people have been arrested in connection with the death of 16-year-old Ken McLaurin Jr. - who had been the subject of a North Carolina Amber Alert.

Officials located the remains believed to be that of McLaurin in the Seven Springs area late Saturday morning. The remains will be sent to the North Carolina State Medical Examiner's office in Chapel Hill for analyses and positive identification.

Police said 17-year-old Curtis Etheridge turned himself into police Saturday around 12:30 p.m.

After seeing himself on television Friday evening, 21-year-old Leonard Joyner turned himself in to a Wayne County Sheriff's deputy . Two other suspects, 19-year-old Jerome Butts and 18-year-old Kevin Edward Smith, were also arrested late Friday as well.

All four have been charged with murder and could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Following the arrests, a family friend expressed the feelings of the 16-year-old's mother and father.

"On behalf of the Kennedy McLaurin Jr. family, I would like thank you all for your prayers and your support," said April Cox-Hobbs.

On Friday, police searched an area along a dirt road in a farm field near Seven Springs, which is about 20 miles from Bain Street where McLaurin was last seen on Sunday, Sept. 9. Detectives did not locate McLaurin's body at the time, but said they did find evidence from the crime.

Investigators said they were told by witnesses that McLaurin was abducted by three or four men and forced into a car in front of a housing project.

"We can assure the public that this is not gang related nor was it random." said Goldsboro Police Sgt. Dwayne Dean.

All four suspects are being held in the Wayne County Jail without bond. They are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 8.

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