LUMBERTON — The search for a 13-year-old boy who is accused of two murders continued on Wednesday without success and seemed to concentrate on the Lumber River.
Multiple boats could be seen in the river in the N.C. 72 area, just west of Interstate 95, not far from the Department of Social Services building from which Jericho W. escaped on foot about noon on Tuesday. The Robesonian has learned that among those involved in the search are Lumberton police, sheriff’s deputies and U.S. marshals as well as local rescue units, including Lumberton Rescue and EMS.
Sheriff Burnis Wilkins could not confirm where the search was centered, but issued the following statement: “My office continues to assist the Department of Public Safety with following up leads and searching for the suspect. I am pleading for the public’s assistance in locating the suspect and stress that anyone harboring him in any way will be charged.
“For everyone’s safety, it would be in his best interest to surrender to authorities or have a family member bring him in voluntarily.”
Lawmen on Tuesday afternoon took the unusual step of releasing the first name and a photograph of the 13-year-old. Law enforcement typically doesn’t release the names of criminal suspects who are 16 or younger and newspapers, as a courtesy, typically don’t publish them. The Robesonian made an exception because the suspect is at-large and also because of the nature of the crimes with which he is charged.
The boy’s mother spoke with WPDE and blamed others for her child’s problems, saying her pleas for help were not answered.
“You’re telling the social workers and the mental health workers and the social services that that’s what your problem is and you’re calling them every day, then that’s something that should’ve been done a long time ago. But they going to wait until he’s charged with these other charges,” Nikki Jacobs said.
Emily Jones, a public information officer for the county, issued the following statement on behalf of the county Department of Social Services:
“Although we cannot speak specifically about this case, Robeson County Department of Social Services is tasked with investigating allegations of abuse, neglect and dependency and determining whether these allegations warrant implementing services including diligent efforts to work with families to maintain children safely in their homes or with family. It is not a job that we take lightly.
“Each family comes with its own unique set of circumstances. There is no cookie-cutter option to address every family’s needs. Our job is compounded by budget constraints and the lack of resources in this area. There are simply too few out of home placement facilities that offer a secured environment for juveniles who have mental health issues coupled with violent delinquency history and substance abuse.”
The U.S. Marshals Service Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force is offering a $1,500 cash reward for information that leads to the capturee of Jericho W. Call 877-926-8332 to provide tips.
Jericho W. and 19-year-old Derrick Deshawn Hunt, both of Lumberton, are charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths this past month of two people. Jericho also is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon.
They were arrested at a residence on Belyn Road in Rowland on Oct. 17, two days after deputies responded to 131 Marigold Lane in Lumberton and found both Frank Thomas, 34, and Adam Thomas, 33, had been shot to death in their mobile home.
According to the Robeson County Sheriff Office, Jericho W. was in the custody of a North Carolina Department of Public Safety Transport team when he escaped from the DSS building, where he had been taken for a court hearing. Wilkins said the court hearing had been held and Jericho was in a holding area but somehow managed to free one of his legs from restraints and was able to escape past Department of Public Safety officers.
On Tuesday, the search was concentrated near N.C. 72 and Country Club Road, where Pinecrest Country Club and the Department of Social Services building are located. About 40 officers, including sheriff’s deputies, Lumberton police and U.S. marshals, were taking part in the search. The helicopters were from Bladen and Brunswick counties.
Jericho is about 5 feet tall, weighs 110 pounds and was wearing a white T-shirt and beige pants. He is an American Indian.
When last seen, he had on leg restraints and no shoes. He apparently was able to free one leg from the restraints before he fled.
Anyone with information should call the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at 910-671-3170 or 910-671-3100. Callers can remain anonymous.
Reach Editor Donnie Douglas at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]