The FBI has finally agreed to investigate the death of a black North Carolina teenager who was found hanging from a swing set in a trailer park. The move comes after months in which Lennon Lacy’s mom, Claudia Lacy, has raised questions about why authorities seemed so eager to quickly declare the August death a suicide even though certain factors just don’t seem to make sense. For one thing, the dog leash and belt that Lacy allegedly used to hang himself did not belong to him. The FBI agreed to get involved after the NAACP raised questions. But they’re hardly alone. The local coroner has also publicly wondered whether the death was really a suicide even though he signed a death certificate stating just that.
"When I saw him, I just knew automatically he didn't do that to himself," Claudia Lacy told the Associated Press. "If he was going to harm himself, his demeanor would have changed. His whole routine, everything, his attitude, everything would have changed."
Seventeen-year-old Lacy died the night before his first big football game since his mother forced him take a year off to focus on his studies. His teammates and parents say the linebacker was particularly excited about the game. That's hardly surprising considering his big dream was to join the NFL.
Pierre Lacy, Lennon’s brother, told the Guardian that the involvement of the FBI is a “huge step.” The Guardian has been following the case closely, writing an in-depth piece about the death in October. On Friday, the paper published an essay in which Claudia Lacy wonders whether her son may have been lynched.
We don’t know what happened to my son three months ago, and suicide is still possible. But there are so many unanswered questions that I can’t help but ask:
Was he killed? Was my son lynched?
It only took four days for the police to declare Lacy’s death a suicide but Claudia Lacy says there are numerous suggestions that the police simply didn’t seem very interested in getting to the bottom of the teenager's death:
For those four days, the police didn’t once come to my house, they didn’t look inside Lennon’s room—they still haven’t to this day. They didn’t ask to see his cell phone so they could track his calls, they didn’t ask me what clothes he was wearing the night before he died. Until my family, with the help of the North Carolina branch of the NAACP, presented the police with a long list of our concerns, they didn’t even inquire about the fact that Lennon was found with a pair of white sneakers on his feet that he didn’t own and were two sizes too small for him.
On Saturday, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP led a march in Bladenboro to call for a federal investigation into Lacy's death.