A shocked North Carolina community is demanding a 17-year-old accused of murdering two other teens be tried as an adult and face the death penalty — while grieving family members find themselves “living in a nightmare.”
Questions continued to swirl Tuesday, three days after the bullet-riddled bodies of 14-year-old Lyric Woods and 18-year-old Devin Clark were found in a wooded trail in rural Orange County.
Police are now seeking an unidentified 17-year-old in the double murder, but the news the suspect won’t automatically be tried as an adult under state law sparked a fierce public outcry as the victims’ families remain in the dark about how the slayings unfolded.
“I’m living a nightmare,” Woods’ heartbroken grandfather Stan Dean told the News & Observer. Dean had offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the person or persons responsible in the homicides.
“Cash! I need results!” he wrote on Facebook.
Dean told the newspaper he planted a cross with lights on it at the spot where his kin’s body was found because the teen “was afraid of the dark.”
Area residents, meanwhile, called for justice and hoped for a harsh punishment for the alleged shooter.
“It’s a shame he’s a juvenile … he deserves to be held accountable and the death penalty,” commented Facebook user Kevin Rigsbee, a firefighter and EMT in Durham County.
“Tried as a juvenile? Death penalty or life isnt [sic] enough for the pain both sets of parents will do life from here on out with because of this crime taken out on their kids,” argued Tripp Taylor, another commenter from nearby Graham, NC.
Clark’s aunt Crystal Hughes told WTVD that the unanswered questions are weighing on the family as they grieve.
“It’s hard for us to process everything that’s going on because we don’t have any details,” she said.
“And we really, our lack of information and is just not sitting right with us with the stuff that we’re hearing and all different sides of the story we know, hoping that the police department in investigation is going the way that it’s supposed to go. But it’s hard on us.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eastern Alamance High School student Clark, who disappeared around 11 p.m. Friday was found dead on Sunday alongside Woods, a freshman volleyball player at nearby Cedar Ridge High School, in Hillsborough.
Woods was last seen getting into a car by a neighbor around 3 a.m. Saturday. She is believed to have left her stepfather’s Efland home through the back door, which was later found unlocked. She was reported missing around noon Saturday.
Though Clark and Woods were from different towns, they lived in the same small, somewhat rural community intersected by I-40 and I-85, and were friends.
Their high schools honored them with a moment of silence at a soccer game Monday night, before the bodies were officially identified.
Cedar Ridge students wore white T-shirts with Woods’ name on them to school on Monday. After the bodies were identified, the teen’s friends shared their sadness and disbelief on social media.
“[W]hy…just why…this hurts more than anything in the world,” wrote one young friend on Instagram.
Another friend, Yanna, captioned a series of video clips of Woods with the words “[M]an lyric [this s—t] ruff. Im not doing good man. i miss you so much right now! i need one of your goofy jokes , or random silly things you say to cheer me up.”
A separate Instagram account, @rememberinglyric2022, was started on Tuesday. The latest post, which included a selfie of Woods with makeup and curled hair, was captioned “Her smile is everything” alongside the hashtag @rememberinglyric2022, .
Woods’ sister, Caroline, also posted an Instagram tribute.
“[R]est easy to my beautiful beloved sister & bestriend [sic],” she wrote.
“Even when she was at her lowest she still found a way to make everyone smile and laugh. i know you’re always going to be watching over me, especially tonight, as i’m trying to find a way to process all of this.”
“I would never expect that to happen to him,” Clark’s friend Dontrell Lee told WTVD.
“The way he went out just really hurts.”
Both Lee and another friend, Erik Battle, attended a balloon release in Clark’s honor on the East Alamance football field on Monday.
“I have to face the fact that I’m gonna be here for the rest of my life until I go to the other side without needing my brother or being able to hear my brother’s voice,” Battle said.