PREVIOUS: Late this Wednesday morning, in Onslow County District Court, Caitlyn Ridgeway, age 19, appeared in district court on a bond request, represented by criminal defense attorney, Paul Castle.
Ridgeway was arrested in July 2017 in the homicide of 48 year old, William Clifton. William Clifton is a former Onslow County Sheriff’s Office deputy/resource officer who was found dead from a “gunshot wound to (the) chest” and “multiple gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma” in Woodlands Park, in Jacksonville, NC according to the unofficial death certificate. His death was ruled a homicide after an investigation by more than 20 JPD officers.
Information has unfolded, opinions formed on both sides continuously throughout the course of this fatal event. Rehashing accusations of child molestation, indecent liberties with a minor in matter of Mr. Clifton, the victim of murder. Allegations of a “cover-up” within the department leading to his resignation. In an article from JD News from July 2017, “If an officer commits a serious crime, he will be fired and we will call in an external agency to have it investigated”, said Sheriff Hans Miller. “We don’t cover anything up.” Allegations were sent to the State Bureau of Investigations. The Daily News (JD News) had also previously reported on those allegations involving a 12 year old child (indecent liberties with a minor) that occurred between October 2015 and February 2016.
Wednesday in Onslow Co. District Court, Ridgeway appeared to request a bond be set. Her defense attorney Paul Castle motioned to have a bond set for the murder charge she faces in the homicide of William Clifton. She has been in custody since July 7, 2017 and now facing a potentially capital murder case.
DA Jamie Askins representing the state, firmly stood on his request of refusing bond pending indictments be issued, making this a capital murder case (no earlier than this summer) as more investigation unfolds evidence on this case.
Will Welch is also charged with the murder in this case and is in custody without bond. He did not appear in court today.
Presiding Judge, WILLIAM M. CAMERON III didn’t make a decision from the bench in court during the appearance but stated he would tentatively do so by end of court. He did state that if there is a bond, “it will be a high bond.” Later that afternoon, bond was denied and she will remain in custody without bond.
Askins requested standard conditions if in the event she was granted a bond.
In cases like this, rumors will float, assumptions, there will be facts mixed with falsehoods and even history brought up, rightfully so. Let’s be honest, we must always consider if it were our family, and that goes for either side.
As observing as a neutral party, both sides families showed emotions through body language and there were tears shed in and out of the courtroom. There was no “one family intimidating” the other, they both showed emotions, stress, anguish, tensions and they still remained civilized in the government building and outside of it as they all parted ways.
Now, let’s look at some fast facts about this case and counter-questions and “street allegations”.
1. Caitlyn Ridgeway did in fact have a restraining order (DVP) against William Clifton. Clifton was accused of raping the accused teenager in 2015.
In 2015, Ridgeway was 17 years old at the time. The law of consent in NC is for age 16. During the time of this DVP filed on February 16, 2016, effective through February 22, 2017, Caitlyn was allegedly willfully with William Clifton, allegedly as was her family when they were not supposed to be together as she needed “protection”. Additionally, according to court documents they were in a “dating relationship”.
Now, if you happen to notice, Deputy David Pickett is the Plaintiff listed with a strike through Caitlyn but States on her behalf on the following section.
David is a “good standing” member on the local LE. So, after the complaint was filed, before it expired Judge Stevens signed off on accusations why would the two (Ridgeway and Clifton) be communicating openly via social media in a positive way?
Sources have provided proof from posts via FB by Ridgeway’s sister Brittany Appleton stating, “Had a good time and an over abundance of AMAZING food over at Will Clifton house. I love being with family just enjoying life and time together“, made back on September 5, 2015. (Because of not having permissions to use these photos in a publication, I have chosen not to use them in this publication at this time.) There are also photos posted on Facebook by the same family member with the mother Daina Hendricks and Caitlyn with Will in another stating, “BBQ at Will Clifton house!”, dated on August 22, 2015 where William Clifton and others are tagged in shared photos.
2. It seems there was an obvious, positive relationship status there regardless of what most consider an unethical age barrier. That is not to state approval nor distaste, just my neutral view based on observation of information given by a number of sources.
NC age of consent: The North Carolina code § 14-202.1 defines one degrees of the crime taking indecent liberties with children, each with associated punishments. The degree of the crime depends on the specifics of the crime committed, with higher degrees of the charge generally receiving harsher punishments. Also from the Age of Consent website with NC law description:
|Severity||Taking indecent liberties with children – Charge Description||Punishment|
|Class F felony
||10 to 41 months in prison|
North Carolina law allows taking indecent liberties with children to be enforced as a statutory charge. This means that this charge can be applied to cases in which the victim is younger than the North Carolina Age of Consent, even if the victim willingly engages in sexual relations with the defendant. (Age of Consent.net)
3. Ridgeway did not act alone. Will Welch was also arrested in this homicide a week following and was 18 years old at the time. Welch was also facing separate charges of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana paraphernalia, resisting a public officer and injury to property.
Police did not state whether the indecent liberties investigation was connected to the homicide investigation.
Will Welch is also still in custody of the OCDC without bond. There will be more on this as it unfolds in the coming months.
There are three lives shattered because of this. One is gone from this life to never face a full investigation so we will know with certainty in matters of the investigation that was ongoing with allegations of indecent liberties of a 12-year-old child, no justice served. Then we have the two teenagers who are charged with his murder who will likely spend a great deal of their lives in prison, if not all of their lives.
If you are or have a teenager that is in any kind of “dating relationship” regardless of ages involved that is too much or you feel that you are going to make a very life-changing decision, please reach out to authorities for help.
If you are an adult, that is engaging in relationships with boys or girls that are under the age of 18, do not test the consent law, just stop! It is better to come clean with what is going on and live to rehabilitate, allow rehabilitation for the opposite party than to end up with one party or the other dead. Yes, in the “old days”, girls would be married and pregnant as young as 15 or 16, but times have changed, we have evolved.
We have to have honest and open conversations about what is happening in our community, state and country. If we don’t, we cannot help each other, nor can we improve the quality of life decisions our youth and adults make. There are dangers out there not only for our youth but adults as well, there are poor decisions made, there are heinous crimes committed, yet there is always a lesson to learn from everything.
1. What was Caitlyn’s motive?
2. How, why did Will Welch get involved?
3. Did the family approve of this “dating relationship”?
4. How did this lead to a homicide?
5. Can these three families ever heal from this?
6. How can they unify to ensure this turns into a positive light showing society how to turn tragedy in to positive lessons? Can they? Is it possible? Anything is possible.
***Disclaimer: Information, statements made herein are from court observation, research and sources who provided information to review. There is no biased intention and if any member of either family wishes to be heard, I am willing to hear from them and take into consideration publishing on their behalf if it be vital and factual information that will help the public understand more about this case as necessary. Some information should not be shared as it is personal and can insult, hurt and/or create an unpleasant emotional state for families, friends and loved ones as well as damage the integrity of the judicial system’s process. There is no intention to be malicious to either family related to this case. Any questions, concerns or need to direct statements can be done so by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments.***