Bolivia, NC – The Brunswick County Sheriff's Department says 80-year-old Lillian Hickman fought back when four masked and gloved men broke down her door Sunday night. The men originally tried to bind Hickman with duct tape, before deciding to lock her in a bathroom, where she called 911 while they robbed her house. Sheriff's officers arrived shortly after the robbers fled with Hickman's purse.
Hickman was left with a black eye from being struck with her door as the men forced their way inside, but did not go to the hospital.
Law Enforcement officers say that evidence suggesting one of the robbers knew Hickman led them to arrest her grandnephew, 17-year-old Chasen Miles Duke around noon Monday. A few hours later, deputies arrested four of his classmates at West Brunswick High School: 16-year-old Darren Deanthony Marlow, 16-year-old Andre Lamartin Hill, 18-year-old Charles D'Angelo Hill, and 17-year-old Erik Jerel Gore.
The men are charged with 1st degree burglary, 2nd degree kidnapping, felony conspiracy, and larceny.
Hill, Gore, and Hill are all noted football players at West Brunswick High School, and Marlow is the son of a school resource officer with the Sheriff's Department. Brunswick County Schools superintendent Katie McGee says that students and the school's staff are in "absolute shock" today.
Brunswick County Sheriff Ronald Hewitt says none of the suspects have any past criminal record.
"What we've got is a case where, on a scale from zero to 100 - 100 being first degree, premeditated murder - these men went from zero to 85 in about ten minutes," Hewitt said at a press conference Monday.
If convicted, the five teenagers face 15 to 20 years in prison each.