Just after 12 p.m. Thursday, local law enforcement agencies apprehended the 17-year-old juvenile charged with the murders of two teenagers and second degree assault of another during a weekend party in Whitesville.
The Daviess County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference at the Daviess County Courthouse after the arrest, where Sheriff Keith Cain said that his office worked in conjunction with Kentucky State Police and the U.S. Marshall’s Fugitive Task Force in the arrest.
Cain explained that the suspect will go to juvenile court and from there he will be sent to grand jury for indictment.
“It is my understanding that a case of this nature where a firearm is utilized, it’s a case that will automatically go,” Cain said. “It’s just a matter of due process. But make no mistake about it, this individual will be tried as an adult.”
Kentucky statutes prohibit the release of the juvenile‘s identity — name or photo — pending adjudication in juvenile court, remanding him to circuit court as an adult.
Cain said that law enforcement obtained information that the suspect may be at a residence in the 4700 block of Wembley Way, which was later confirmed by surveillance. The suspect was identified entering a vehicle, whose driver was leaving the home, when law enforcement apprehended him in the immediate vicinity. Cain was unable to elaborate on what led investigators to the location in the Greystone Estates neighborhood.
Investigators said the Wembley Way homeowners and the driver of the vehicle have been very cooperative in their interviews and as of now no charges are being pursued against them.
“While this arrest is indeed a milestone in this investigation, much work is still needed,” Cain said. “Numerous persons still need to be located and interviewed.”
Cain said additional persons could still be charged in connection with the Whitesville shooting. As of Thursday morning, DCSO still had at least 27 individuals they had yet to interview, some of which were associates of the accused, individuals believed to be at the party or names of people that just came up during the course of investigation.
The reluctance of many witnesses or individuals DCSO wished to interview was a source of frustration for officers and a detriment of the investigation, Cain said, adding that a number of people would not talk with law enforcement.
“Some people are reluctant to get involved because of fear or retaliation,” Cain said. “Some individuals wouldn’t talk to us because of what they refer to as ‘the code.’ They felt it was snitching.”
A potential motive for the shooting has been identified, according to Cain, who said DCSO investigators are aware of an altercation that happened weeks prior to the Saturday incident in Whitesville between the suspect and one of the victims.
“We can’t elaborate on the extent of that, but we believe that was at least in part the motive behind this shooting,” Cain said.
DCSO Chief Deputy Barry Smith said investigators believe the suspect was targeting the individual from that altercation at the party and the other two victims were “collateral damage.”
During Thursday’s arrest law enforcement did not recover a weapon. Smith said he will not release details of the weapon or number of gunshots sustained by the victims at this time.
DCSO has been staying in touch with families of victims daily, Cain said, and information from those conversations is what ultimately led his team to Thursday’s point of the investigation.
Cain confirmed his office is not pursuing charges against the owners of the Crisp Road home, where the Whitesville party took place. He said investigators believe that the teenage host intended for the party to be with a few friends and was approved by her mother, but several uninvited guests showed up.