09/21/12 — Police: McLaurin murdered, three arrested, one sought

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Police: McLaurin murdered, three arrested, one sought

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 21, 2012 4:47 PM

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Kennedy Fitzgerald McLaurin Jr.

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Leonard Eugene Joyner

Goldsboro police announced Saturday morning that one more arrest has been made in connection to the murder of 16-year-old Kennedy Fitzgerald McLaurin Jr., bringing the total to three, with one more suspect still being sought.

Arrested are Leonard Eugene Joyner, 21, 104 Cottonfield Drive, who turned himself in after seeing himself on television; Jerome Jilah Butts, 19, 186 Sandstone Drive; and Kevin Edwards Smith, 18, 200 Marlette Drive. All three men are charged with murder and are being held in the Wayne County Jail with no bond. Police also have arrest warrants out for Curtis Etheridge, 17, 113 Biltmore Drive, on an open count of murder.

Police had announced at a 5 p.m. Friday press conference that the McLaurin case had officially been changed from a missing person case to a murder case and announced that they were pursuing suspects. Police also said that while tips to the 24-hour hotline had led them to an all-day search Friday of the Seven Springs area and that they had found further physical evidence in the case, they had not yet found McLaurin's body.

Police said they do not believe that McLaurin's murder was random and that he is believed to have been connected to the men who are charged with his murder after having abducted him from the 700 block of Bain Street in the Woodcrest Housing Community on Sept. 9. They do not believe, though, that it was gang related, but did not offer a motive.

Police emphasized Friday that McLaurin's body has not been found and asked that any one with further information call the 24-hour tip hotline at (919) 580-4243.

McLaurin was reported missing on Sept. 10 by his mother, Kimberly Best, when he didn't come home the night before. An Amber Alert was issued on Sept. 12.

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