Federal investigators have concluded that Lennon Lacy, a Bladenboro high school football player found lifeless and hanging from a swing set in the middle of a mobile home park two years ago, was not murdered and have closed an 18-month investigation into his death.
Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division met with Lacy’s family members Thursday to let them know.
“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,” said statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The investigation was launched after the NAACP and others pushed for a probe into Lacy’s death in August 2014.
Local authorities quickly concluded that Lacy, 17, had hanged himself from a swing set. But many questions arose about the local police investigation, so Lacy’s family and others welcomed the news that federal agents had started their own investigation in December 2014 into how the teen died.
The case captured the attention of national and international media. Katie Couric, the TV newswoman who serves as Yahoo Global News anchor, did a segment. Ed Pilkington has written extensively about Lacy for guardian.com. A reporter posted stories about Lennon Lacy on the Daily Kos website, and Triangle media outlets followed the story.
NAACP members marched through Bladenboro to call attention to the investigation and to honor a teen they contend was working to “build bridges between different groups in Bladen County” in the southeastern part of the state. Bladenboro, a town incorporated in 1903, has a population of about 1,700 people.
In addition to working out for football in the summer of 2014, Lacy had joined a multiracial youth group at a Baptist church in Bladenboro. He attended weekly services and basketball ministry there.
He was romantically involved with a 31-year-old woman who told people shortly after his death that she did not think Lacy killed himself.
The federal investigation included a review of materials and evidence generated and provided by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. The materials included law enforcement reports, statements made by Lacy’s family members and friends, witness statements, social media postings, surveillance camera footage and forensic evidence reports. Federal officials also conducted independent interviews with people identified by Lacy’s family members as potentially having information about or involvement in his death.