Today marks five years since a Bladen County High School student was found hanging on a swing set in Bladenboro.
The autopsy for Lennon Lacy, 17, says he died on August 29, 2014 from asphyxia due to hanging. The report shows no indication of foul play.
State and local investigators ruled Lennon Lacy had committed suicide, but his family disagrees.
Lacy played football at West Bladen High School in 2014. In previous interviews, his mother told us Lacy was getting ready for the first football game of the year the night before he was found dead. Lacy's cousin Corey Lyons said there are several reasons the family does not think it was suicide.
"I knew Lennon and I knew he was ambitious about playing football. The fact that it was stated that he laid his football gear out on the bed which is kind of suspicious to me that if someone was going to commit suicide, they would not make preparations for tomorrow," Lyons said.
Lyons also said the person who called 911 cut Lacy down before investigators got there. He said he thinks that could have affected the investigation. The autopsy attributes marks on Lacy's head to ants. Lyons said he saw Lacy's body at the funeral home.
"It didn't look like ant bites to me. It looked like he had been in a fight before everything happened," Lyons said.
Lyons also said Lacy was wearing an odd pair of shoes when he was found. Lyons said there are several rumors about what may have happened to Lacy.
"There were many that didn't like the fact that he was an African American and she was a Caucasian lady," Lyons said. "They were dating. She was older than he was. Speculation says she was married or had a boyfriend, didn't like the fact that Lennon was seeing his woman and so speculation has it that he said that Lennon was going to pay."
Lyons said the family just wants closure.
"I just want somebody to do a thorough investigation and preferably from the outside of this area to come in and do a thorough investigation, so we can actually find out what happened and who did it," Lyons said.
Shortly after Lacy's death, the NAACP got involved and held a march for Lacy. Lyons said they have not been as involved in recent years. He hopes to get the West Bladen Chapter of the NAACP involved in the case.
In June of 2016, the FBI closed the case ruling Lacy's death a suicide. Justice Department investigators say they conducted a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding Lacy's death to determine whether his death was a homicide within the scope of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Federal officials also conducted independent interviews with people identified by Lacy's family members as potentially having information about or involvement in the teen's death.
District Attorney Jon David released a statement on the announcement:
"On Thursday, June 16, the U.S. Attorney's Office issued a press release stating, "After a careful and thorough review by a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents, the Justice Department found no evidence to suggest that Lacy's death was a homicide. Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed." I have thoroughly reviewed all reports from BPD, the SBI, and the FBI and I concur with the findings of the U.S. Attorney's Office that there is no evidence to suggest that Lacy died as a result of a homicide. All of the credible evidence suggests that Lacy died as a result of suicide," David said.
A new documentary examining a Bladen County teenager's mysterious death won an award at the Sundance Film Festival.
[via WWAY TV]