17-year-old remains at-large more than 24 hours after being charged with killing 2 high schoolers

Thursday, September 22, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

More than 24 hours after investigators said they know who killed two high school students, that suspect remains at large.

ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- More than 24 hours after investigators said they know who killed two high school students, that suspect remains at large.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that there's nothing new to report on the search for the 17-year-old who investigators have charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18.

Investigators have not released the suspect's name, citing the fact that the suspect is a juvenile and by North Carolina law has not yet been formally charged in the adult judicial system.

Orange County's acting district attorney and the attorney who will be trying the case said a decision has not yet been made on whether to try the suspect as an adult. That call won't be made until an arrest is made.

Wood's grandfather, who previously offered a $10,000 reward in the case, was back at the scene of the crime Wednesday. He was putting up solar lights around a cross he made to honor his granddaughter. He said the family is still struggling to cope with the loss.

Clark's mother told ABC11 that her family is happy investigators have a suspect.

Both families are planning separate events to honor the teens. Cedar Ridge High School will honor Woods at its home volleyball game Thursday night. Likewise, a vigil for Clark is planned for Thursday in Caswell County.

What we learned Tuesday

A juvenile petition for two counts of first-degree murder was filed Tuesday afternoon with the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

The suspect's name has not been released because they are not an adult. Since December 2019, 16- and 17-year-olds who commit crimes in North Carolina are not automatically charged as adults. However, with probable cause, a judge has the ability to transfer the case into the adult justice system.

"I want to thank the families of Devin Clark and Lyric Woods for trusting us and the investigative process during this excruciatingly painful time," Blackwood said. "I hope the apprehension of this subject will bring them some comfort as they mourn their loved ones."

Legal experts say under the North Carolina Juvenile Justice Act, details surrounding the case may be limited.

"The juvenile protections will be available to this individual until there is a court determination that they should be prosecuted as an adult. But that's an exception to the statute that allows for prompt movement. So initially, there is just a level of confidentiality, that's going to apply," explained North Carolina Central University Law Professor Irving Joyner who has been following the case. "There has been information provided to law enforcement that quickly led to the identification of this suspect. And then the decision by law enforcement to arrest a particular individual. So that means that there was, you know, a strong trail that was there that led to that person."

Woods was a freshman at Cedar Ridge High School. She played volleyball on a travel team.

Some of her friends played on the Cedar Ridge High School volleyball team. That team is dedicating its game Tuesday night against Jordan High School.

"We will miss her bright smile and enthusiasm for the game. Our AIM VB family is truly saddened by this tragic situation," AIM Volleyball Club Director Nancy Cates said.

Students at Cedar Ridge High School have also been wearing white shirts with Lyric Woods' name on them to class this week.

Clark was a senior at Eastern Alamance High School. His favorite number was four, and that's why his nickname was Deuce Two Times.

His mother said a memorial in his honor was being planned for Thursday. Plans for his funeral are also still being discussed.

Clark loved riding dirt bikes. In his honor, friends and family plan to do a dirt bike ride-a-long in Mebane around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

What we learned Monday

The Orange County Sheriff's Office said men riding ATVs on Sunday found the two bodies around 3 p.m. near a power-line easement in the western part of the county. Investigators said both victims appeared to have been shot.

Family members confirmed Monday that the bodies were Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18. Both had been reported missing during the weekend.

Their specific causes of death have not yet been determined. Investigators expect to receive that information from the medical examiner's report in the near future.

According to the sheriff's office, family members reported Woods missing Saturday afternoon and a deputy entered the information in the National Crime Information Center index (NCIC) around 3:44 pm. The family said they went to sleep Friday night with the back door of the home locked; when they woke up Saturday the back door had been unlocked with no evidence of a forced entry.

Clark's family contacted the Mebane Police Department on Sunday with concerns about his whereabouts. An officer entered him into NCIC at approximately 1:42 pm.

Woods' grandfather took to social media offering a $10,000 reward in the case.

The lives of Woods and Clark were remembered Monday night with a moment of silence at a soccer game between their two high schools.

"This past weekend, Devin Clark an Eastern Alamance student and Lyric Woods a Cedar Ridge student tragically lost their lives," the public address announcer stated just before the game. "Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers."

Parents along with the Hate Free Schools Coalition gave teens a safe space to process their grief. Dayna Jones, a 9th-grade student, and few dozen students gathered Wednesday night in front of the Orange County Courthouse where they expressed their thoughts and emotions surrounding their classmates.

"I don't think people realize how much it hurts," said Jones. " I walked in the bathroom earlier and seen a girl crying because she knew Lyric. We hugged each other and cried it out."

Mallory Thorton was there to support her daughter through her grief. She said it hasn't been enough.

"It's really hard. There's no time to process anything that's happening," said Mia Thorton.

School districts have made grief counselors and support services available for students.

"These children are actually hurting as you heard tonight they are hurting. They are scared. They're terrified and they don't have an outlet to express themselves and that's why I came out here tonight asking them to come to express how they feel," Thorton said.

The investigation remains active. Anyone with additional information is asked to call Investigator Keith Goodwin at (919) 245-2918.