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State Police Appeal For Information Months After Virginia Teen Found In ‘Clandestine Grave’
Loved ones of 17-year-old Cion Carroll say an electronic app reportedly showed his phone was last active at the address of a reported sex offender following his Nov. 2 disappearance. More than a week later, the teenager was reportedly found dismembered in rural Lunenburg County.
Police are appealing to the public months after a teenage boy disappeared, later to be found in a shallow grave.
Cion Jere Carroll was 17 when he disappeared from his grandmother’s home on the night of Nov. 2 in Kenbridge, Virginia — about 70 miles southwest of Richmond. His body was found nine days later on the rural outskirts of Lunenburg County.
Although postmortem findings have not been made public, loved ones tell Oxygen.com Cion was shot in the head and spine before his killer or killers dismembered his remains and covered him in lye and cement.
For the happy teen’s family, including his mother, Tiffany Baker, news of Cion's gruesome murder didn’t make sense.
“Cion was a loving kid,” Tiffany told Oxygen.com. “Always outgoing and courageous.”
One of the high school senior’s most vocal champions is his mother’s cousin, Angie Baker, who described Cion as “a very helpful child” who “loved to work,” having been employed with the Popeye's Louisiana Chicken fast-food restaurant before his death.
On Tuesday, the Virginia State Police, taking the lead in the murder investigation, e-mailed a statement to Oxygen.com, hoping to drum up leads that could point them toward Cion’s killer or killers.
“We know there are people within the Lunenburg and Kenbridge communities who have valuable information to share with us concerning the murder of Cion Carroll,” stated Capt. David O. Cooper II, VSP BCI Appomattox Division Commander. “Today, Jan. 11, marks three [sic] months since the grave and his body were discovered in the woods of Seay Way. Any information you can share with us can help investigators identify and apprehend Cion’s killer, as well as help bring closure to his family and help local residents regain a sense of safety within their community.”
In the three months since Cion's disappearance and the police press release, Cion’s loved ones voiced concerns to the media, sharing that they felt left in the dark in the weeks following the discovery of Cion’s body.
Angie Baker called the recent release “B.S.”
“It’s too late. It should have been done,” Angie told Oxygen.com. “They should have had that released a long time ago.”
The Richmond-raised teenager had relocated to Kenbridge about four months before he disappeared to be with his grandmother and was enrolled in Central High School in nearby Victoria, Virginia, according to Cion’s family. His mother hoped that by sending him to live with her mother, Cion could steer clear of some of Richmond’s more reputable neighborhoods known for violence.
Cion's grandfather, Junius Carter, told Oxygen.com his grandson “wanted a change of scenery.”
But on Nov. 2 at around 10:00 p.m., Cion departed his grandmother’s house, leaving his headphones behind, something his family said was uncharacteristic. The family became increasingly concerned when they learned the teen had left his ADHD medication behind.
Little could be ascertained about Cion’s last-known movements, including where he was going. Cion's bicycle was left behind, indicating he could have been picked up or had walked away from this grandmother's home.
“I knew my son was in danger,” Tiffany steadfastly said of her reaction.
Cion’s grandmother, Bessie, reported Cion missing the next day, though loved ones questioned why specific tools hadn’t been utilized by authorities at the time, including the activation of an Amber Alert.
According to Virginia law, Amber Alerts are activated in the case of abducted children under 17 years of age and come at “the discretion of the local or regional law enforcement officials."
Cion’s family claims the police treated the case as though Cion ran away from home — a common occurrence in cases of missing Black children, according to the Black and Missing Foundation.
In the days following his disappearance, relatives traveled back and forth between Richmond and Kenbridge, posting missing persons fliers around the small town and forming their own search parties.
Much of the information gleaned from Cion’s family came from word-of-mouth in the once-thriving tobacco-farming community of only 1,100 people, according to relatives. Neighbors reported various theories pertaining to what they’d heard on police scanners, and according to Cion’s mother, police allegedly theorized that Cion possibly took his own life.
Even more troubling, relatives say that their own records show that a location-based app on Cion’s phone showed the device’s last location was at the residence of a reported sex offender who lived just a couple of miles from where Cion’s body was discovered.
Oxygen.com is declining to release the sex offender’s identity. However, court records from another county show he was convicted in 2000 of committing aggravated sexual battery against a person under 13 years of age.
Angie Baker said investigators hadn’t looked into the convicted man’s home and showed up when family members knocked on his door seeking information.
“Before we left, we had a conversation with them,” said Angie, referring to local police. “They were saying, ‘Oh, well, we don’t have the manpower like the big cities do.’”
Angie said police tried explaining why Cion’s phone might have pinged near the residence, saying it might be because someone made a U-turn in the driveway or someone threw Cion’s phone on the side of the road.
The cell phone was never recovered, according to Cion’s family.
“They never searched the house,” Angie claimed.
Relatives traveled back to Kenbridge on Nov. 12, when Kenbridge Police Chief Ben Barnes, 26, allegedly informed the family that he found “disturbed dirt” in a wooded area north of Kenbridge the previous night, which eventually turned out to be what state police called a “clandestine grave.”
Police could not confirm to Oxygen.com whether Barnes found the body himself, as alleged by Cion’s family.
“The human remains recovered from the grave were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for examination, autopsy, and positive identification,” according to state police, who took the lead on the case following the discovery of Cion’s body. “The Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office and Kenbridge Police Department have been and continue to assist state police with the ongoing investigation.”
Oxygen.com previously contacted Chief Barnes to inquire about the investigation, who referred all questions to Virginia State Police.
This week, local ABC Richmond affiliate WRIC-TV reported Barnes resigned amid the investigation into Cion’s murder.
The Kenbridge Police Department did not confirm Barnes’ reason for resignation.
Meanwhile, Cion’s family hopes the “unknown monsters” behind Cion’s homicide will be caught. There has been no information regarding a suspect or suspects in the case.
“Go to the police,” Angie said in a plea to the public. “Many people have been coming to us telling us who’s involved. Get that information to the police. It’s nothing that we can do with it.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Virginia State Police at 1-434-352-3478 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tipsters can also reach out to the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office.