There are new questions being raised publicly in the August 2014 hanging death of Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old Bladenboro teenager, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues its probe into the matter.
Did a white male that Lacy was in a fight with months earlier for allegedly stealing Lennon’s phone follow through with his alleged threat to “kill and hang” Lacy?
That person reportedly was released from jail three weeks before Lacy’s death.
Was Lacy targeted because he was in an interracial relationship with a 31-year-old white divorcee’ who had reportedly was also seeing other men?
Those questions were posed by the ESPN investigative series “Outside the Lines” (OTL) in a half-hour segment which aired nationally Sunday morning. While the FBI remains tight-lipped about what its investigation has determined so far, the new questions and revelations deepen the mystery surrounding the death of the promising young athlete in the small Bladen County town of less than 2000, where only 20 percent of the population is black.
Lennon Lacy was a linebacker for West Bladenboro High School’s football team. The season home opening game was Friday, August 29 – the very day that Lacy’s body was found hanging from a swingset in a predominately white trailer park.
A week later, the medical examiner’s report cited “suicide” as the cause of death. SBI and Bladenboro police believed that Lennon hung himself because he was depressed over the recent death of a relative.
But Claudia Lacy vehemently disagreed, saying her son may have been naturally saddened, but not depressed to the point of suicide. Besides, he was excited about appearing in his school’s home opening football game, and had been busily preparing for it.
He would not have killed himself given those circumstances, she maintained.
As has been reported before, when Lennon’s body was found hanging from the swing set, the white sneakers with no laces on his feet were not his, evidenced by the fact that they were two sizes too small. The brand new Air Jordan sneakers he had on the day before were missing.
Also, Lennon Lacy stood five feet, nine inches tall, but the top bar of the swing set in the mobile home trailer park where he was found was seven feet off the ground. Authorities as of yet have not explained how he could have hung himself with two belts (that were not his, says his mother) without stepping up onto something to do it, something that was not there when he was discovered the morning of August 29th.
More troubling, local authorities did not want an autopsy to be performed, and no crime scene pictures were taken because the police photographer was off on another assignment.
As far as Claudia Lacy was concerned, state and local authorities were “too quick” to label her son’s death a suicide, and as far as she’s concerned, a thorough investigation into all aspects of the case had not been done.
One of those aspects involves Michelle Brimhall, the 32-year-old white mother who Lennon had been dating, to the chagrin of his family, and apparently other people in the small town.
As recently as Tuesday of this week, Brimhall had a giant picture of Lennon Lacy headlining her Facebook page, which lists her as being from Bement, Illinois, currently attending Bladen Community College, living in Bladenboro and having one daughter who apparently still lives in Bement.
“Outside the Lines” asked Brimhall if Lennon’s death had anything to do with the fact that they were dating.
“I don’t believe so,” she replied. Brimhall acknowledged that Lennon’s family “didn’t approve”, but they didn’t try to stop the relationship.
Months earlier, Brimhall was forced to move from the white couple’s house she had been staying at since she had moved to Bladenboro because they didn’t approve of her dating the black teenager, the ESPN program alleged. She got her own apartment in the same complex where Lennon’s family lived.
A neighbor in that complex named Whitney Michael told OTL that she saw “a steady stream of traffic pull up to Michelle Brimhall’s door. “You know, in and out, different guys, different vehicles, back and forth at her house,” the woman said, adding that she “put two and two together.”
When asked if Lennon Lacy “had put two and two together” about what was going on at Michelle Brimhall’s apartment, Whitney Michael told OTL he did “…in a way…but he was in denial.”
It would be later, Michael continued, that Lennon became upset when told that Brimhall had been allegedly …”sleeping around with other guys that he did not know about…multiple guys, like different partners. He was hurt by it. That was his girlfriend.”
OTL reported that shortly after midnight, the night before Lennon Lacy died, Whitney Michael said she and Lennon saw a car pull up to Brimhall’s apartment, with her and a black man getting out and walking inside.
“He was like, “Oh wow, really?” she recalled.
Michelle Brimhall told OTL that she was seeing Lacy “exclusively” at that point, so she was not romantically involved with the black man she was with. She did confirm that Lennon was “in some ways” jealous. But Brimhall dismissed that he had reason to be because, she said, she got along better with men than with women…and Lennon knew this.”
Brimhall denied that Lacy came to her home after midnight to confront her about the black man she had brought with her.
When asked, Brimhall said she did not think that Lennon Lacy committed suicide. “Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe he came across someone doing something,” she added when asked what she thought happened to him.
Whitney Michael believes, as does Claudia Lacy, that Lennon was killed.
But if it was a murder, then who did it?
“I have no idea,” Ms. Lacy told OTL, I have no idea.”
The NC NAACP has spearheaded the cause to have the Lennon Lacy case fully investigated, citing inconsistencies in the coroner’s report, and lapses in proper police investigatory procedures in the case in what they call “a rush to judgment.”
“There are deep questions and deep concerns about this case,” says Rev. William Barber, NCNAACP president.
Wednesday evening, the civil rights organization held the third community mass meeting on the case in Bladenboro, in an effort to encourage those with pertinent information to step forward and assist the FBI in its probe.