HomeTop StoriesA year after Devin Clark and Lyric Woods were murdered, the murder...

A year after Devin Clark and Lyric Woods were murdered, the murder case still stands

A year ago, two Orange County teenagers were found shot to death on a rural stretch of land off Buckhorn Road.

Their disappearance and subsequent deaths led to a multi-state investigation, murder charges and changes in statewide juvenile justice policy.

Here’s what we know about the investigation a year after their deaths.

Who are Devin Clark and Lyric Woods?

Devin Clark, 18, was a senior at Eastern Alamance High School and a wide receiver for the football team, according to a statement from the Alamance-Burlington School System.

Lyric Woods, 14, was a ninth-grader at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough. She was an avid volleyball player and started high school just a few days before her death.

The two teens were friends, according to social media posts posted by family and friends after their deaths.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the deaths of Devin Clark and Lyric Woods.

What happened to Devin Clark and Lyric Woods?

On the weekend of September 16, 2022, Woods and Clark were reported missing by their families.

Woods’ stepfather said he last saw Lyric around 11 p.m. Friday, September 16, at their home in Efland in western Orange County, according to a missing persons report filed with the Sheriff’s Office. He discovered the teen was missing around 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 17, when he went to wake her, according to the report filed around noon that day.

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A copy of Clark’s missing persons report released by Mebane police said he was also last seen on September 16 around 11 p.m., but few other details were given. The report was filed around 11:23 a.m. on September 18, shortly before he and Woods were found.

On September 18, a pair of bodies were found by two men on four-wheelers in a rural field off Buckhorn Road south of Efland around 3 p.m.

The bodies were later identified as Clark and Woods.

Autopsy reports and court arguments revealed that Clark and Woods had both been shot multiple times with a 9mm handgun.

Where does the case stand against their alleged killer?

On September 20, 2022, a juvenile petition – the equivalent of an arrest warrant in the juvenile system – was filed against a 17-year-old.

Due to privacy laws in place at the time, police could not release the accused minor’s name until he was in custody and his case was elevated to a higher court.

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The youth then evaded police for almost two weeks. He fled to Delaware, where he was apprehended by authorities on October 5.

Issiah Mehki Ross of Mebane was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, and his case was transferred from juvenile court to superior court on Nov. 7.

When Ross turned 18 in December, he was transferred from a juvenile facility to the Orange County Jail, where he remains today.

No motive has been provided by the Sheriff’s Office or Orange County District Attorney Jeff Nieman.

Ross appeared in court in January where he was denied bail. His case continues to move through the legal system.

Issiah Ross will appear in Orange County Superior Court for a hearing on January 10, 2023 in Hillsborough.  Ross faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18. Ross was 17 at the time.

Issiah Ross will appear in Orange County Superior Court for a hearing on January 10, 2023 in Hillsborough. Ross faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18. Ross was 17 at the time.

Has anyone else been charged in this case?

On November 2, two Delaware women were indicted for their alleged role in helping Ross hide from authorities.

Nakaysha Ross, the older sister of Ross, 22, of Middletown, Delaware, and McKenzie Mitchell, 21, of Dover, Delaware, were charged Oct. 5 with felony obstruction of prosecution, FBI spokeswoman Sgt. India Sturgis said in an email to The News & Observer at the time.

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The women were arrested at the Leander Lakes apartments in Dover, Delaware, where officers from a violent crimes task force tracked down and detained Ross.

A person wears a t-shirt in support of murdered teenager Lyric Woods during a hearing for 18-year-old Issiah Ross at the Orange County Courthouse on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 in Hillsborough, NC.  Ross is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 17 deaths of Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18.

A person wears a t-shirt in support of murdered teenager Lyric Woods during a hearing for 18-year-old Issiah Ross at the Orange County Courthouse on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 in Hillsborough, NC. Ross is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 17 deaths of Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18.

What happened to their memorial?

On Friday, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said the monument on Buckhorn Road marking the spot where the teens died had been vandalized.

The monument was initially built last September by Woods’ grandfather, Stan Dean.

The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $3,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the vandals.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Keith Goodwin. His number is (919) 245-2918.

Lights illuminate a memorial for Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18, in Orange County on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. The Orange County Sheriff's Office said Monday that the two young people found shot to death on Sunday in west Orange County, Woods are.  and Clark.

Lights illuminate a memorial for Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18, in Orange County on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that the two young people found shot to death on Sunday in west Orange County, Woods are. and Clark.

Lyrical and Devin’s Law

In August, after the General Assembly passed, Governor Roy Cooper signed the Lyric and Devin’s Law.

Under the new law, names, photographs, alleged crimes and statements about the perceived threat level of young people can be distributed by law enforcement agencies while a suspect is at large.

Previous laws only allowed this information to be released after the charge was elevated from the juvenile court to the superior court.

When Ross evaded arrest, police were unable to publicly release his name due to his age. Ross evaded police for two weeks before being apprehended by authorities in Delaware.

Eddie Caldwell, the executive vice president of the N.C. Sheriff’s Association, a law enforcement lobbying group, said he believes the previous privacy protections delayed Ross’ arrest.

β€œThe new law will allow us to show our community that we are doing our job,” Caldwell said in a statement.

However, there are limits to this law.

To legally release identifying information, the case must meet the following requirements:

  1. The child is accused of at least one criminal offense that could go before a higher court.

  2. The judge determines that the suspect is a danger to himself or others.

  3. A judge finds ‘a good thing’.

This law comes into effect on December 1.

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