BLADENBORO — A year ago today Lennon Lacy was found hanged in a Bladenboro mobile home park, a death that has yet to be explained to the satisfaction of his family.
But an FBI investigation into what happened to the 17-year-old is reportedly nearing its end.
The FBI’s investigation, which was launched in December, is one of four that has looked into the high school linebacker’s death since he was found hanging from a wooden swingset on Aug. 29, 2014. Lacy’s memory was honored Friday night during a memorial service in Bladenboro with the North Carolina NAACP.
Although investigators say there has been no evidence of foul play in Lacy’s death, many, including the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, have questioned the notion that Lacy would have killed himself.
“I am asking the community for patience,” Bladen County District Attorney Jon David said this week. “The death of a child deserves a full and comprehensive investigation, and that’s what is happening here.”
The FBI was called in at the request of David and the Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP.
“Why the FBI? Because they have the resources and proper training to look into this case without rushing to judgment,” Barber said in December.
Although there have been indications that the FBI’s report is close to being revealed, David said his office has not yet received any results of that investigation.
“I have had extensive conversations as recent as this week with the FBI and SBI,” David said recently. “The matter is progressing and the investigation is coming to a conclusion soon.
“When we receive the file from the FBI, we will review it thoroughly and make a final determination on the case,” he said.
Lacy’s family and friends have insisted that the teenager had plenty to live for, including the fact that he was about to play in the season’s first home football game at West Bladen High School, where he was a junior. Some worry Lacy, who was black, was murdered because of his relationship with a white woman in her 30s.
An initial autopsy found no evidence of foul play, and Lacy’s death was deemed a suicide.
A separate autopsy ordered by the NAACP cast doubt on that determination, specifically questioning how the teen could have physically hung himself on the 7-foott, 6-inch-tall swing set with nothing to stand on. The family has also noted that Lacy was found wearing sneakers that did not belong to him and were too small.
“There are questions still out there,” David said. “And we hope they can be answered. But some we may never know the answers to.”
Both Barber and David say their ultimate goal is the truth.
“I really can’t say much because of the need to maintain the integrity of the process,” David said. “But getting answers and the truth is what we all want. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will get answers everyone wants or expects.”
The death attracted state and national media attention, including a piece on ESPN.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets. W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163.