Local News

Report raises issues about probe of teen's hanging death

Posted November 21, 2014

Lennon Lacy

— A pathologist hired by the state chapter of the NAACP is raising concerns about the investigation into a Bladen County 17-year-old's death, which was ruled a suicide.

A report released Friday into the case of Lennon Lee Lacy – found this past summer hanging from a noose on a swing set in Bladenboro – says North Carolina's chief medical examiner, Dr. Deborah Radisch, reached her conclusion based partly on information from local law enforcement and the local medical examiner.

Investigators never provided Radisch with photos of the swing set, the report says, and, therefore, she was unable to determine if it was possible for the high school junior to hang himself from it.

Family members and the NAACP, who believe Lacy's death was a "race-based homicide," have called for a federal investigation. They believe local authorities rushed to reach a conclusion and did not fully investigate the case.

Bladen County's district attorney, however, said earlier this week that he believes the investigation was thorough and welcomes a federal review.

Among the issues in Dr. Christena Roberts' report is the location of the noose on the swing set.

Lacy was 5 feet 9 inches tall, while the cross beam on the set was 7.5 feet from the ground. There were no swings attached to the structure, nothing at the scene that he could have stood on, and a grommet that the noose was tied to was nearly 2 feet away from the swing's climbing platform, Roberts wrote.

The noose also did not appear long enough for him to have been able to tie it from the platform and still have a loop big enough for him to place it over his head, Roberts added.

There was also a concern about the noose – a double-hole black canvas belt tied to a blue canvas belt.

The report states that the black belt was "not consistent" with one Lacy wore, and the blue one "is reported to be consistent" with a belt worn by someone who lived in the trailer park next to where Lacy's body was found.

According to a timeline included in her report, Roberts said Lacy was last seen at home around 10:30 p.m. the day before his death when he told his parents he was going for a walk.

At some point that evening, according to the report, he and his girlfriend had an argument, and he went to the mobile home park.

A woman called 911 around 7:25 a.m. the next day when she found Lacy suspended with his feet several inches off the ground.

Photos of Lacy's body showed he was wearing a pair of size 10.5 shoes, even though the shoes he had on the previous night were gray size 12s. Those shoes, Roberts noted, were not on the body when he arrived at the state medical examiner's office, even though the local medical examiner reported placing them with the body.

There was also conflicting information about why photos were not taken at the scene.

The medical examiner reported that the SBI would not let him and threatened to take his camera if he did. Case notes, however, indicate no photos were taken because crime scene technicians were at a homicide scene.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • 678devilish Nov 24, 2014

    If this was determined to be a suicide, would the family and friends be able to accept that?

  • ecp1951 Nov 21, 2014

    seems a bit strange to me that was last seen at home at 10:30 pm when he said he was going for a walk and wasn't seen again until 7:30 am the next day. seems the parents would have been worried where he was in between and looking for him.

  • Linda Kerns Kellogg Nov 21, 2014
    user avatar

    It sounds like further investigation might be warranted, and if he were my son I would want to be sure the ruling was correct, but why would the thought be that this is a "race-based" homicide? What indication is there that it had anything at all to do with his race?

  • Hippy_mom Nov 21, 2014

    If he went for a walk at 10:30 pm and was found the following morning at 7:25 am, did his parents simply not know he never came home? Was this something he normally did? Or did they call the police when he didn't return home?

  • common tater Nov 21, 2014

    If it's homicide, hope they find the perp. I know from experience this is way too typical of the type of investigation -or lack thereof - that happens in a small town.

  • justabumer Nov 21, 2014

    If it wasn't a suicide then I also hope the guilty person is identified but I'm confused about the accusation that it was a race-based homicide. Is there a reason to think so or is this just another of the typical responses from Barber and his crowd?

  • Luvlife Nov 21, 2014

    Glad someone is looking into this. It's not as if this is first time this has ever happened...

  • A cold, hard dose of Hans Nov 21, 2014

    View quoted thread


  • Rachael Garner Nov 21, 2014
    user avatar

    I hope they find whoever did this.