Local News

Three men arrested, fourth sought in death of kidnapped Goldsboro teen

Posted September 21, 2012 8:50 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2012 7:40 p.m. EDT

— Goldsboro police arrested three men Friday night and are looking for a fourth person in connection with the death of a teenager who was kidnapped nearly two weeks ago.

Leonard Eugene Joyner, 21, of 104 Cotton Field Drive, Goldsboro, surrendered to a Wayne County sheriff's deputy Friday evening after seeing himself identified on TV as a suspect in the death of Kennedy "Ken" Fitzgerald McLaurin Jr., police said.

McLaurin, 16, was kidnapped by at least three men on Sept. 9 from the 700 block of Bain Street in the Woodcrest Housing Community and was last seen being forced in a 1990s blue-gray, four-door Oldsmobile with faded paint, police have said.

Jerome Jilah Butts, 19, of 186 Sandstone Drive, Goldsboro, and Kevin Edward Smith, 18, of 200 Marlette Drive, Goldsboro, were also arrested and charged with murder in connection with McLaurin's death.

Each suspect was in the Wayne County jail Friday evening.

Police are still looking for Curtis Etheridge, 17, of 113 Biltmore Drive, Goldsboro.

Although he wouldn't elaborate, Sgt. Dwayne Dean said earlier Friday that investigators believe McLaurin was killed and that the crime was neither gang-related nor random.

But he would not comment on a motive.

Investigators and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation are still looking for McLaurin's body.

They spent most of Friday near Carmack Road in Seven Springs, a rural area about a half-hour southeast of Goldsboro, where Dean said they found physical evidence related to the case.

He would not say what that evidence was or whether it could lead police to McLaurin.

Dean urged the public to call the police department's 24-hour tip line at 919-580-4243 if they have any information about McLaurin's disappearance.

"We have a 16-year-old young man who has not been located," Dean said. "The family is wanting closure. We want closure, and we will continue on until we can get that closure for the family."

April Hobbs-Cox, speaking on behalf of McLaurin's family at a news conference Friday afternoon, thanked police and the public for their support in keeping the case in the public eye.

"Thank you all for your prayers and support in helping locate Ken and bring him home," Hobbs-Cox said. "(The family asks) that you continue to keep them in prayer and continue to keep them lifted up."