Sheriff's investigators found Mathew Silliman's body on the bathroom floor of an abandoned mobile home owned by one of the suspects' parents near New Hill in southwestern Wake County on Dec. 3.
Four of Silliman's friends, Aadil Shaaid Kahn, 17, Allegra Rose Dahlquist, 17, Drew Logan Shaw, 16, and Ryan Patrick Hare, 18, are all charged with his death.
Entries on Silliman's Facebook website page showed he was friends with the other teens. He attended Apex High along with Dahlquist and Kahn. Shaw and Hare were students at Panther Creek High School, although Hare had left the school in March after an unrelated incident where he was accused of having a weapon on campus.
Friends and other students described the group as "Goth." One girl explained that they were "Scary at first," but nice once you got to know them.
Search warrants released
Search warrants released Wednesday paint a graphic picture of what may have happened to Silliman the night he was killed. The warrants say one of the teens confessed to taking part in the murder.
"One person who Apex police identified subsequently confessed to participating in the death of the deceased, along with three other co-conspirators. The witness admitted to beating the deceased on his head with a hammer, tying the deceased with zip ties, suffocating him with duct tape and disposing of him in a plastic bag. The witness also stated they attempted to utilize medications commonly used for animals to plan the murder and read the deceased his fortune by using tarot cards just prior to his death," reads one warrant.
Investigators took burned incense and ashes, prescription drug bottles, syringes, cable ties, and tarot cards - among other things - from the mobile home where his body was found.
Link to music lyrics?
The search warrants also show investigators are combing through messages and entries on social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace for clues to a motive. On Shaw's Facebook page, he refers to himself as a "Jugalo."
According to the Urban Dictionary website, a jugalo is someone who is "any person identifying with or supporting the Insane Clown Posse."
The Insane Clown Posse is a hip hop duo from Detroit that performs under the personas of murderous wicked clowns. Their music is known as "horrorcore," and is full of dark lyrics that have been targeted by some critics for being too violent and immature for many of the young fans who support the group.
Eyewitness News began reading through some of those lyrics Thursday and came up with some disturbing similarities between the words and what allegedly happened to Silliman.
In the song "Murda Cloak," one line reads: "I tied a ***** up, I had to duct tape the ***** face." The song "Wax Museum" says: "It seems my cards of tarot have dealt you a very odd hand," and the song "Like It Like That" says: "Sometimes my dome feels like a cherry bomb. I gotta pound his ***** head with a hammer to keep him calm."
So is there a link between the alleged murder and the music of the Insane Clown Posse? While some child welfare groups would argue that young people are influenced by violent and sexually explicit song lyrics, research - at least so far - doesn't back that up. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics says no cause and effect relationship has been found between song lyrics and adverse behavioral effects.
But, it says parents should be knowledgeable about the music their children are listening to, and it says "for a small subgroup of teenagers, music preference may be highly significant. Numerous studies indicate that a preference for heavy metal music may be a significant marker for alienation, substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, suicide risk, sex-role stereotyping, or risk taking behaviors during adolescence."
Investigators are not talking about the Silliman investigation and have not said if there is any link between the alleged murder and song lyrics. Prosecutors told Eyewitness News Thursday the search warrants are just a snapshot in time and there is still a lot more to be revealed. They say the investigation is a long way from being complete.