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Juvenile Officially Charged In Connection With Missing N.C. Teens Found Shot To Death

An unnamed 17-year-old has been charged with the murders of high school students Lyric Woods and Devin Clark, whose bodies were found in a wooded area not far from Woods' home.

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A 17-year-old teen is under arrest weeks after two high school teenagers were found shot to death in rural North Carolina.

The juvenile suspect, whose name has not been released, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the shooting deaths of Lyric Woods, 14, and Devin Clark, 18, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Citing “ironclad” laws that prevent authorities from releasing information about the minor suspect, it remains unclear if the alleged shooter is the same 17-year-old identified as a suspect days after the double murder.

“We hope this apprehension provides some relief to the families and friends of Devin and Lyric, who have experienced excruciating loss,” said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood. “Obviously, the capture of the suspect does not restore their loved one to them. The grieving process is a long one, and we hope the community will continue to support them in their pain.”

RELATED: North Carolina Officials Release 911 Call From Witness Who Found Missing Teens Murdered

The sheriff’s office said the suspect’s case currently falls within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, as noted in previous releases pertaining to the alleged shooter.

Citing the North Carolina General Statutes, officials say a 16- or 17-year-old suspect charged with a felony is no longer automatically prosecuted in adult court, thanks to a 2019 law change raising the age of implementation. They must first be charged in juvenile court before a judge can transfer the case to superior court, an event the defendant could appeal within a 10-day window.

Legal experts cited by NBC Raleigh affiliate WRAL and ABC Durham affiliate WTVD say it’s more than likely the suspect’s case will enter adult court due to the severity of the charges.

Photos of missing teens Lyric Woods and Devin Clark

Until the case is moved to adult court — if and when that happens — authorities are prohibited from releasing not just the juvenile’s identity but the details surrounding his or her apprehension, including the arresting agency.

“We understand our community is hungry for information to help process this tragedy; however, the laws regarding juvenile confidentiality are ironclad,” Blackwood continued Wednesday. “We have no ability to set them aside, even given the heightened interest in this case.”

The investigation began on Saturday, Sept. 17, when Lyric Woods, a freshman at Cedar Ridge High School, was reported missing from her Hillsborough home — just northwest of Durham. The 14-year-old’s stepfather, Shane Cannada, said he last heard Woods getting into the shower at around 11:00 the previous night, and when he went to wake his stepdaughter the following morning, she was gone.

The family believed Woods snuck out in the middle of the night by exiting through the back door, where K-9 units detected her scent and followed it into the woods before it disappeared, suggesting Woods was picked up. The area is known for people riding four-wheelers and other off-road vehicles.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, the Mebane Police Department entered Devin Clark, a senior at East Alamance High School, into the NCIC. Clark’s mother, Tiffany Concepcion, would later say she reported her son missing the day before.

Although it wasn’t immediately clear whether or not the missing teens knew one another, family members from both sides confirmed with local reporters that they were friends, despite attending separate schools, according to WRAL.

Less than two hours after Clark’s information was entered into the national database, two men riding four-wheelers found the victim’s bodies in a wooded area about two and a half miles from Woods’ home, near a power line easement not far from Buckhorn and Yarborough roads.

On Sept. 20, the sheriff’s office announced they’d identified the 17-year-old suspect. It remains unclear why it took more than two weeks to place him or her in custody.

“There is a big relief off my chest knowing this person is in custody,” Concepcion stated following the arrest, per WRAL. “That is the longest 17 days I have ever had in my life.”

Concepcion previously addressed authorities’ initial identification of the suspect by taking to social media.

“I feel bad for this juvenile’s parents,” said the mother. “So at the end of the day, I pray for everything that’s going on and everybody that’s in this situation.”

The suspect has 10 days to appear before a juvenile court judge at an undisclosed location, according to WRAL.

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