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In 2014 a 17-year-old African American male, Lennon Lacy, was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, North Carolina. Local law enforcement and federal investigators ruled the hanging a suicide, but Lennon’s family remains unconvinced and suspect it was murder.
Independent Lens on PBS joins forces with North Carolina's UNC-TV, producer Orlando de Guzman, and WUNC reporter Leoneda Inge to take a closer look into Lennon Lacy’s death and the mystery and controversy that surround it.
This investigation was inspired by Always in Season, Jacqueline Olive’s upcoming documentary about the history of lynching in America, including an examination of the Lacy case.
PART 1: THE CASE
Friends describe Lennon Lacy as a quiet, polite and happy high school junior who was looking forward to playing in his first football game of the season. Instead, he was found hanging from a swing set in the small, rural town of Bladenboro, North Carolina. Police said it was a suicide. But his family and the North Carolina NAACP were unsatisfied with the investigation.
PART 2: THE BEAST
The town where a 17-year-old African American male was found hanging two years ago has a strong sense of community. But there’s also a history of racial strife and intolerance. Even the town’s local legend about a “beast of Bladenboro” has racial overtones. Independent Lens on PBS and North Carolina UNC-TV and radio explore the town’s racial divide and how it might have played a part in Lennon Lacy’s death.
PART 3: THE SECRETS
The family of 17-year-old Lennon Lacy say they will never find peace until they know the details of how the African American teenager died. His mother and the NAACP believe the police are withholding information and fear a cover-up in a town that has long harbored secrets about racial violence. “This town has so many secrets,” says one resident, “If you open the door, the skeletons would fall out.”