Investigators Now Know "Who Shot Desmond Ray"

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

It has taken more than two years, but Bay County sheriffs and Panama City police investigators believe they have found the men responsible for the murder of 14-year-old Desmond Ray.

On the night of June 21, 2002, Desmond Ray sat in the courtyard at Pana Villa Apartments. A masked gunman came up from behind him and shot him in the head. Sheriff's investigators now believe the shooting was the result of an altercation two days prior.

"The suspects had a beef with Ray. There was another shooting incident involving Ray and the suspects two days prior to Ray's murder."

Time, broken friendships and a guilty conscious shined new light on the two-year-old case. Investigators say those involved began to talk and led to the arrest of five young men.

Investigators say 19-year-old Benjamen McDonald was the suspected triggerman. He's being held on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Four other suspects were also arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and principle to murder. They are 18-year-old Eric Richardson, 20-year-old Brayun Richardson, 19-year-old Mikhal Forbes and 19-year-old Darren McClendon.

Desmond Ray's family is comforted in knowing that those involved may be brought to justice, but say it shouldn't have taken this long.

"I have mixed feelings about the arrests. I'm happy because there's closure, but it took too long to arrest them. They knew at the time of the murder who the suspects were. People were talking, but they didn't do anything," says J.J., Ray's cousin.

Investigators say because the five suspects were minors at the time of the murder it was hard for them to question and arrest them, but investigators believe justice has finally been served.

Sheriff's investigators actually brought in 15 people Thursday morning for questioning. Most had some kind of information about the murder. Five were arrested. None of the five suspects have prior records.


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