The shocking discovery of two missing North Carolina teens shot dead in the woods has rattled their tight-knit community — as loved ones say they are “trying to find a way to process” their deaths.
Friends in rural Orange County said they are in disbelief after the bullet-ridden bodies of Devin Clark, 18, and Lyric Woods, 14, were found Sunday.
“I would never expect that to happen to him,” said Clark’s friend Dontrell Lee, a student at Eastern Alamance High School in Mebane.
“The way he went out just really hurts,” Lee told WTVD.
Both Lee and another friend, Erik Battle, attended a balloon release in Clark’s honor on the East Alamance football field on Monday.
“I have to face the fact that I’m gonna be here for the rest of my life until I go to the other side without needing my brother or being able to hear my brother’s voice,” said Battle.
Clark was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday. His family reported him missing Sunday afternoon, shortly before his body was found.
Clark’s body was discovered alongside that of Woods, 14, a freshman volleyball player at nearby Cedar Ridge High School, at the intersection of Buckhorn and Yarbrough roads in Hillsborough.
Though the Clark and Woods were from different towns, they lived in the same small, somewhat rural community intersected by I-40 and I-85, and were friends.
The two high schools honored Woods and Clark with a moment of silence at a soccer game on Monday night, before the bodies were officially identified.
“This past weekend, Devin Clark, an Eastern Alamance student, and Lyric Woods, 14, a Cedar Ridge student, tragically lost their lives,” the announcer said before the game.
“Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers.”
Woods was last seen getting into a car by a neighbor around 3 a.m. Saturday. She is believed to have left her stepfather’s Efland home through the back door, which was later found unlocked. She was reported missing at around noon on Saturday.
Cedar Ridge students wore white T-shirts with Woods’ name on them to school on Monday. After the bodies were identified, the teen’s friends shared their sadness and disbelief on social media.
“[W]hy…just why…this hurts more than anything in the world,” wrote one young friend on Instagram.
Another friend, Yanna, captioned a series of video clips of Woods with the words “[M]an lyric [this s—t] ruff. Im not doing good man. i miss you so much right now! i need one of your goofy jokes , or random silly things you say to cheer me up.”
A separate Instagram account, @rememberinglyric2022, was started on Tuesday. The latest post, which included a selfie of Woods with makeup and curled hair, was captioned “Her smile is everything” alongside the hashtag #rememberinglyricwoods.
Woods’ sister, Caroline, also posted an Instagram tribute.
“[R]est easy to my beautiful beloved sister & bestriend [sic],” she wrote.
“Even when she was at her lowest she still found a way to make everyone smile and laugh. i know you’re always going to be watching over me, especially tonight, as i’m trying to find a way to process all of this.”
While the community’s young people grapple with the loss of two of their own, others in the area are rallying for justice.
On Tuesday, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood released a statement confirming that a 17-year-old suspect was wanted in connection with the slayings. Because of the suspect’s age, Blackwood said, the individual will not be automatically charged as an adult.
“It’s a shame he’s a juvenile.. he deserves to be held accountable and the death penalty,” commented Facebook user Kevin Rigsbee, a firefighter and EMT in Durham County.
“Tried as a juvenile? Death penalty or life isnt [sic] enough for the pain both sets of parents will do life from here on out with because of this crime taken out on their kids,” argued Tripp Taylor, another commenter from nearby Graham, NC.
The public outcry following the Sheriff’s Office’s announcement came shortly after Woods’ grandfather, Stan Dean, offered a reward for the killer’s capture on Facebook.
“$10,000.00 reward to the capture of the the [sic] ones responsible for my granddaughter’s murder! Cash! I need results!” he wrote.
On Tuesday morning, Dean told The News & Observer that he planted a cross with lights on it at the spot where Woods’ body was found “because she was afraid of the dark.”
“I’m living a nightmare,” he said.
Clark’s aunt Crystal Hughes told WTVD that the unanswered questions are weighing on the family as they grieve.
“It’s hard for us to process everything that’s going on because we don’t have any details,” she explained.
“And we really, our lack of information and is just not sitting right with us with the stuff that we’re hearing and all different sides of the story we know, hoping that the police department in investigation is going the way that it’s supposed to go. But it’s hard on us.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to request for comment.