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North Carolina authorities forged ahead Wednesday with a massive statewide manhunt for a 13-year-old accused of double murder, 24 hours after the teen gave officials the slip following a court appearance.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety said in a news release that the escaped teen, identified only as Jericho W., escaped Tuesday around 12:10 p.m. after going before a judge in Lumberton.
“Division officials have a high degree of concern for the safety of both the juvenile and the public, due to a prior history of assaultive and unpredictable behavior,” the agency said.
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The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook the teenager escaped from the custody of the state’s Department of Public Safety Transport Team.
The 13-year-old was scheduled to appear in court for two counts of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapons charge, the sheriff’s office added. It’s not clear if the teenager was being charged as an adult or juvenile, as North Carolina officials told Fox News they couldn’t not comment on the case because it involves a juvenile.
The teenager who identified custody, identified as Jericho W., is a suspect in the killings of two men.
(North Carolina Department of Public Safety)
The teen’s mother, Nikki Jacobs, told WRAL-TV her 13-year-old was “out here in the dark.”
“My baby’s out here somewhere, nobody knows, and he is all alone and hopefully he is safe wherever he is at,” Jacobs said. “I just wish that he would come back, turn himself in and get the help that he needs.”
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The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said the teenager was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and beige pants at the intersection of Highway 72 and Country Club Road in Lumberton. When he made his appearance in juvenile court, he was also wearing leg restraints without any shoes.
Officials have described the 13-year-old as having brown eyes with brown hair. They say he is 5 feet tall and weighs approximately 110 pounds.
“We currently have helicopters from the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, US Marshals from Wilmington and Fayetteville, Lumberton Police and sheriffs deputies are searching for him,” police said. “The Robeson District Attorney’s Office has been on hand, as well.”
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At one point, officials warned residents in the area of Planetarium Road about “low-flying helicopters” as darkness fell, in addition to “dozens of officers” deployed on the ground.
Authorities later cleared the area, but said that deputies were continuing to work to find the escaped teenager.
Jericho W. and a 19-year-old were charged in October when deputies found two men, Frank Thomas, 34, and Adam Thomas, 33, dead in a home they shared, WRAL reported at the time.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the 13-year-old is asked is to call Matthew Jenkins with the Department of Public Safety Communications Center at (919) 825-2726 or the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 671-3170.