DA issues statement after feds close Lennon Lacy investigation

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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The District Attorney for Bladen County issued a statement today about the 2014 of a Bladenboro teen a day after federal investigators said they had ended their investigation in the case.

In his statement Jon David said the finding by the FBI, US Justice Department and the US Attorney’s Office that there was no evidence of homicide in Lennon Lacy’s death in August 2014 “confirmed my initial opinion that the investigation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Bladenboro Police Department was complete, thorough, and professional.”

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State and local investigators ruled that Lacy, who was found hanging from a swing set in a mobile home park, had committed suicide. Lacy’s family, though, disagreed. With support from the NAACP, the family asked for a federal review of the case to see if Lacy had been killed as part of a hate crime. Yesterday, though, federal investigators said they found no evidence to support that theory.

David’s full statement:

On the morning of August 29, 2014, the body of Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old male West Bladen High School student from Bladenboro, North Carolina, was found hanging by his neck from a swing set in a Bladenboro mobile home park.

The Bladenboro Police Department (“BPD”) and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (“SBI”) initially investigated Lacy’s death. Investigations are a search for the truth. Central to our inquiry was to determine the manner of death and whether anyone was criminally responsible for Lacy’s death.

A focused and early response by BPD and the SBI resulted in a comprehensive investigation. Nonetheless, in an effort to be thorough, we requested that our federal partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI review this matter. The FBI declined to open up a formal investigation and instead agreed to conduct an assessment. The assessment involved reviewing the entire SBI file (which included the BPD file) and conducting follow-up interviews where appropriate. The FBI has completed its assessment and forwarded its work product to my office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review.
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.

Unfortunately, teenage suicide is an all too frequent occurrence in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death among persons between 15-34 years old.

Some have suggested that the quality of the initial law enforcement investigation was lackluster. In my analysis, this is simply untrue. The FBI assessment has confirmed my initial opinion that the investigation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Bladenboro Police Department was complete, thorough, and professional. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the hard work and dedication of SBI Special Agent Paul Songalewski who went above and beyond the call of duty to see that justice was done in this matter.

Having determined the cause of death does not lessen the pain of the Lacy family. My thoughts and prayers are with the Lacy family during this difficult time and I encourage the community to support them in their time of need.
This investigation is now closed.