SANFORD, N.C. — The suspect arrested in connection with the murder of 11-year-old Bradley Way will remain in jail for now.
Victor Jermaine Gamble, 20, of Cameron, made his first court appearance Thursday after being charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods.
Gamble will remain in the Lee County Jail without bond. He does not have a court-appointed attorney yet, but he has a probable cause hearing scheduled for July 21.
Officials said Gamble murdered the boy after breaking into Way's home to commit a robbery, then stole jewelry from the home and pawned it at a local pawn shop.
Lee County sheriff's Capt. James Estes said Gamble apparently was surprised by Way, who was home alone.
"It appeared that it was a break-in to the residence, and that break-in led to the death of Bradley Way," Estes said.
"Why couldn't he just leave him alone? If he wanted to take something, just take it. Why did he have to kill an 11-year-old boy," said Shawn Melby, the boyfriend of Way's mother. "Bradley was like a stepson to me. [I hope] the guys that did this get the justice they deserve."
Melby said Gamble worked for Chris Way, Bradley's father. Detectives said Gamble used to live in the same neighborhood as Way.
Gamble was traced after fingerprints were found at the Way home. Gamble was arrested Wednesday night at his home, which is close to the Way residence and where Gamble was serving intensive probation for an unrelated case, officials said. He was supposed to be home between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Way's father came home from work Monday afternoon and notified the authorities when he could not locate his son. Way was found in an abandoned mobile home about 300 yards from his home.
He died from a blow to the head.
Visitation for Way is scheduled for Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Bridges Cameron Funeral Home on West Main Street in Sanford. The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at Center United Methodist Church on South Plank Road in Sanford.
A fund has been set up on Way's behalf. Donations can be sent to the Deep River Optimist Club, P.O. Box 984, Sanford, N.C., 27331.
Way, an avid baseball player, was part of a Little League team that will play in an all-star tournament starting Thursday. His coach, Jeff Gaster, said the tournament may be named for Bradley.
"My two children, two boys, also played on the team with Bradley," Gaster said. "And my 9-year-old -- Bradley was his favorite person."
Gaster said the team will go to the funeral Friday.
"The kids who do attend and can handle it will be wearing their uniforms," he said.
The baseball league also is selling ribbons with Bradley's number on them as a way to support the family financially.
"Our goal is for it not to cost the family a thing," Gaster said. "It already cost them too much."
Way would have started in the fifth grade Wednesday.
"We've been in a couple of classrooms to talk to the students and just providing any assistance that they felt was necessary," said school principal Gary Jackson.
Way's parents felt it would be best if his little sister started first-grade Wednesday. The rest of the family was at the home of Way's aunt, leaning on each other as detectives began to build their case against Gamble.