A year ago, two Orange County teenagers were found shot to death on a stretch of rural land off Buckhorn Road.
Their disappearance and subsequent deaths led to a multistate investigation, murder charges and changes in state juvenile justice policy.
Here’s what we know about the investigation a year after their deaths.
Who are Devin Clark and Lyric Woods?
Devin Clark, 18, was a senior at Eastern Alamance High School and a wide receiver on the football team, according to a statement from the Alamance-Burlington School System.
Lyric Woods, 14, was in ninth grade at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough. She was an avid volleyball player and started high school just a few days before her death.
The two teenagers were friends, according to social media posts made by family and friends after their deaths.
What happened to Devin Clark and Lyric Woods?
On the weekend of September 16, 2022, Woods and Clark were reported missing by their families.
Woods’ stepfather said he last saw Lyric around 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, at their home in Efland in western Orange County, according to a missing persons report filed with the sheriff’s office. He learned that the teenager was missing around 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, when he went to wake her up, according to the report, filed around noon that day.
A copy of Clark’s missing persons report released by the Mebane Police Department says he also was last seen around 11 p.m. on Sept. 16, but provided few other details. The report was filed on Sept. 18 around 11:23 a.m., shortly before he and Woods were found.
A pair of bodies were found by two men on four-wheelers in a rural field off Buckhorn Road south of Efland around 3pm on September 18.
The bodies were later identified as Clark and Woods.
Autopsy reports and court arguments revealed that Clark and Woods were both shot multiple times with a 9mm pistol.
How far along is the case against their alleged killer?
On September 20, 2022, a juvenile petition – the equivalent of an arrest warrant in the juvenile system – was filed against a 17-year-old.
Because of privacy laws in place at the time, police could not release the accused minor’s name until he was in custody and his case was brought to superior court.
The young man then evaded police for almost two weeks. He fled to Delaware, where he was arrested by authorities on October 5.
Issiah Mehki Ross of Mebane was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and his case was transferred from juvenile court to superior court on Nov. 7.
When Ross turned 18 in December, he was transferred from a juvenile facility to the Orange County Jail, where he remains today.
No motive was given by the sheriff’s office or Orange County District Attorney Jeff Nieman.
Ross appeared in court in January, where he was denied bail. His case continues to move through the court system.
Has anyone else been charged in the case?
On November 2, two Delaware women were charged for their alleged roles in helping Ross hide from authorities.
Ross’ older sister Nakaysha Ross, 22, of Middletown, Delaware, and McKenzie Mitchell, 21, of Dover, Delaware, were charged Oct. 5 with felony hindering prosecution, FBI spokeswoman , Sgt. India Sturgis said in an email to The News & Observer at the time.
The women were arrested at the Leander Lakes Apartments in Dover, Delaware, where officers from a violent crimes task force located and arrested Ross.
What happened to their memorial?
On Friday, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said the memorial on Buckhorn Road marking the spot where the teenagers died had been vandalized.
The memorial was initially built by Woods’ grandfather, Stan Dean, last September.
The sheriff’s office is offering a $3,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the vandals.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Keith Goodwin. His number is (919) 245-2918.
Devin’s lyric and law
In August, after approval by the General Assembly, Governor Roy Cooper signed the “Lyric and Devin’s Law.”
Under the new law, names, photos, alleged crimes and statements about the level of threat perceived by minors can be distributed by law enforcement while a suspect is at large.
Previous laws allowed this information to be released only after charges had been elevated from juvenile court to higher court.
When Ross was evading capture, law enforcement was unable to publicly release his name due to his age. Ross evaded law enforcement for two weeks before being arrested by Delaware authorities.
Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president of the N.C. Sheriff’s Association, a law enforcement advocacy group, said he believes previous privacy protections delayed Ross’ arrest.
“The new law will allow us to demonstrate to our community that we are doing our job,” Caldwell said in a statement.
However, there are limits to this law.
In order for identifying information to be legally released, the case must meet the following requirements:
The child is charged with at least one crime that could go to superior court.
A judge determines that the suspect poses a danger to himself or others.
A judge finds “good cause.”
This law will come into force on December 1st.