One year ago, two Orange County teenagers were found shot to death on a rural stretch of land off of Buckhorn Road.
Their disappearance and subsequent deaths led to a multistate investigation, murder charges and statewide juvenile justice policy changes.
Here is what we know about the investigation one year after their deaths.
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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 has started high school just a few days before her death.
The two teens were friends, according to social media posts made by family and friends after their deaths.
What happened to Devin Clark and Lyric Woods?
On the weekend of Sept. 16, 2022, Woods and Clark were reported missing by their families.
Woods’ stepfather said he last saw Lyric around 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at their house in Efland in western Orange County, according to a missing persons report filed with the Sheriff’s Office. He learned the teen was missing around 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, when he went to wake her up, according to the report, filed about noon that day.
A copy of Clark’s missing persons report released by the Mebane Police Department said he also was last seen around 11 p.m. on Sept. 16 but provided few other details. The report was filed Sept. 18 around 11:23 a.m., shortly before he and Woods were found.
A pair of bodies were found by two men riding four-wheelers in a rural field off of Buckhorn Road south of Efland around 3 p.m. on Sept. 18.
The bodies were later identified as Clark and Woods.
Autopsy reports and court arguments revealed that Clark and Woods were both shot multiple times with a 9 mm handgun.
Where does the case stand against their alleged killer?
On Sept. 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 name of the juvenile charged until he was in custody and his case was elevated to superior court.
The juvenile then evaded police for nearly two weeks. He fled to Delaware, where he was apprehended by authorities on Oct. 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 bond. His case continues to move through the court system.
Was anyone else charged in the case?
On Nov. 2, two women from Delaware were charged for their alleged role in helping Ross hide from authorities.
Nakaysha Ross, Ross’s older sister, 22, of Middletown, Delaware, and McKenzie Mitchell, 21, of Dover, Delaware, were charged Oct. 5 with felony hindering prosecution, FBI spokeswoman Sgt. India Sturgis said in an email to The News & Observer at the time.
The women were arrested at the Leander Lakes apartments in Dover, Delaware, where agents with a violent crimes task force located and detained Ross.
What happened to their memorial?
On Friday, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood stated that the memorial on Buckhorn Road marking the spot where the teens died had been vandalized.
The memorial was initially constructed by Woods’ grandfather, Stan Dean, last September.
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 Investigator Keith Goodwin. His number is (919) 245-2918.
Lyric and Devin’s Law
In August, after it passed the General Assembly, Gov. Roy Cooper signed “Lyric and Devin’s Law.”
Under the new law, names, photos, alleged offenses and statements about the perceived threat level of juveniles can be distributed by law enforcement agencies while a suspect is at large.
Previous laws only allowed for this information to be released once charges had been elevated from juvenile court to superior court.
When Ross was evading capture, law enforcement were unable to publicly release his name due to his age. Ross dodged law enforcement for two weeks before he was apprehended by authorities in Delaware.
Eddie Caldwell, the executive vice president of the NC Sheriff’s Association, a law enforcement lobbying group, said he believes the previous privacy protections delayed Ross’s arrest.
“The new law will allow us to show our community that we are doing our jobs,” Caldwell said in a statement.
However, there are limits to this law.
In order for identifying information to be legally released, the case must meet the following requirements:
The child is accused of at least one offense that could go to superior court.
A judge determines that the suspect is a danger to themselves or others.
A judge finds “good cause.”
This law will go into effect on Dec. 1.
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