RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Sheriffs across North Carolina say the ability to share names, faces, case details and more about juvenile suspects could have sped up manhunts for high-profile young people accused of serious crimes.
Previously, agencies were barred from sharing any information with the public, or outside agencies, when it came to offenders under 18.
Nearly one year ago, ATV riders found the bodies of teens Lyric Woods and Devin Clark in this field in Orange County.
Another teenager suspected in their deaths, Issiah Ross, went on the run before deputies could catch up with him.
“They had learned he had gone to Delaware,” Eddie Caldwell, with the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, said. “So they were working with the Delaware law enforcement authorities but they couldn’t tell them a last name, couldn’t send him a picture.”
Caldwell said that case, along with another search for juveniles in a Robeson County murder, became catalysts for changing the law.
“Both those sheriffs were handcuffed, so to speak, by the law and what it would not allow them to do. And it slowed things down, slowed down the apprehension of the killer,” Caldwell said.
The section of HB186 requires a judge’s order and for law enforcement agencies to have a juvenile petition that’s deemed serious enough to release information about that minor suspect to the public.
In emergencies, agencies can release photos, names and details before going to a judge.