A pathologist hired by the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Friday questioned how the body of Bladenboro teenager Lennon Lacy was handled after he was founding hanging from a swing set near his home on the morning of Aug. 29.
Dr. Christina Roberts, who works for C.J. Consulting of America in Hernando, Fla., wrote in her report to the N.C. NAACP “there is conflicting information about what occurred at the scene between the representative from the Medical Examiner office and the police,” and that Bladen County coroner Hubert Kinlaw “reported that SBI would not let him take photographs at the scene and threatened to take his camera if he did.” Roberts’ report also states that Kinlaw reported that officers didn’t want an autopsy performed and that Kinlaw had to have the district attorney’s office order one.
Roberts reviewed the autopsy and case reports with Dr. Deborah Radisch of the N.C. Medical Examiner’s office earlier this month. Radisch said Lacy’s death was listed as asphyxia due to hanging on her autopsy report because the manner of death is listed as suicide on the death certificate and on the medical examiner’s investigation report, according to Roberts’ report.
Roberts reported that Radisch said that if investigative information was provided by an independent agency, and not the family, that Lacy’s death represented something other than a suicide, that she would consider changing the manner of death to undetermined while awaiting additional investigation.
The N.C. NAACP has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Lacy’s death under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to a letter addressed to Thomas Walker, who is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The organization said its investigation suggested a “quick call” had been made by state and local authorities that “no foul play” was involved.
Jon David, who is the district attorney for Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties, said in a statement that his office would welcome a federal investigation. David said his investigation has found no foul play was involved.
Among the inconsistencies Roberts noted in her report to the N.C. NAACP are:
** Could Lacy have hanged himself on the swing set? Lacy was 5-feet-9. The cross beam of the swing set was 7 feet, 6 inches off the ground. The metal grommet used to attached the noose was 22 1/2 inches away from a climbing platform. There were no swings to act as a step to reach the beam that held the pants belt that was used as a noose, and there were no items present at the scene that Lacy could have stood on, applied the noose, and then kicked it away.
** The black belt that was the apparent noose was not consistent with one commonly worn by Lacy.
** When Lacy’s body was placed in a bag, Kinlaw, the medical examiner, reported that Lacy was wearing white sneakers without laces. However, the shoes were not with the body when it reached the state medical examiner’s office. The shoes reportedly were size 10 1/2, but Lacy wore a size 12 shoe. “Dr Radisch stated she had asked SBI about the shoes, but they simply offered it had been explained and did not elaborate further,” Roberts wrote in her report. Roberts also said that Radisch told her that it was not the usual practice for police to remove clothing from the body before transport.
Roberts also questioned whether it could be determined whether Lacy was choked to death before being hung in the noose. Radisch said it was not possible to determine based on the markings around the neck, Roberts said.
The family and the N.C. NAACP have said reports that Lacy was depressed over the recent death of a great uncle were not true and that he had not expressed a desire to hurt himself or wish to no longer live, according to Roberts. It has been reported that the initial autopsy report said that Lacy had been depressed over the death.
However, Roberts noted, Lacy did not write a suicide note nor send any text messages that would be thought to represent a suicide note or saying goodbye. Lacy also had no long term history of depression, and there was no history of alcohol or drug abuse, Roberts said.
Instead, according to Roberts’ report, Lacy told a funeral home employee at a dinner following some portion of the funeral Aug. 28 that he was looking forward to playing Aug. 29 in the first game of the season for the West Bladen High School football team.
On the night of Aug. 28, Roberts writes, Lacy was at home with his parents when he told his mother that he was going for a walk about 10:30 p.m., which was a normal habit. When Claudia Lacy awoke the next morning she had no reason to check on her son because he regularly got himself ready for school, Roberts writes. Claudia Lacy went to work and did not know he was missing until later notified of his death.
Roberts writes “information provided was that sometime during the evening Lennon had an argument with his girlfriend. After that time he went to a mobile home located in the park where he was found. Family has expressed concern about one male that resided in the mobile home.” Roberts’ report did not identify any of the people.