Almost one month after 19-year-old Trent Lehrkamp was dumped off at the emergency room at Southeast Georgia medical center, Georgia prosecutors and police provided the public with an update regarding their investigation into the horrific abuse and torture Lehrkamp endured.
Except according to them, there was no torture … in fact, several of the juveniles who participated in the alleged abuse of Lehrkamp were framed as “heroes” to the assembled media. Should this surprise anyone? No … at least not based on the direction of this “investigation.”
District attorney Keith Higgins and interim Glynn County police chief O’Neal Jackson announced on April 17, 2023 that five individuals had been charged in connection with this case – although none of the charges appear to be especially serious. And as noted, the press conference announcing these charges wound up being a full-throated exoneration of those implicated – as well as a condemnation of those who pushed for accountability in this case.
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(Via: Glynn County)
Carlton Strother and Lauren Strother – both of Saint Simons Island, Georgia – were charged with maintaining a disorderly house and contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a minor. According to officials, the couple surrendered themselves to Glynn County investigators and were booked into the local detention center.
Another individual – 17-year-old Edward Rooker Hobby – was arrested and charged with battery. According to police, this arrest stemmed from a separate investigation involving Lehrkamp. Two juveniles were also arrested in relation to this investigation – but officials refused to reveal the identity of those individuals citing state law.
One juvenile was charged with simple battery and criminal trespass and the second was charged with possession and use of drug related objects.
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To recap, on March 21, 2023 at approximately 8:30 p.m. EDT, Lehrkamp was pulled from a white Jeep by three occupants of the vehicle who – according to hospital staff – repeatedly asked if they were free to leave.
All three occupants departed the hospital before police arrived at 10:40 p.m. EDT. According to the incident report, Trent was drawing only six breaths per minute and his blood alcohol level was a staggering .464 – nearly six times Georgia’s legal limit of .08.
“Trenton could not breathe independently, so they had to sedate him and put him on a ventilator,” the report noted.
When police officers responded, the incident report stated Lehrkamp was soaked in urine and had spray paint all over his body and hair. Prior to being dropped off at the emergency room, Lehrkamp’s attackers recorded videos and posted photos to social media as they allegedly lured him to a home, bound him with duct tape, spray painted him, (including his face and eyes) urinated on him, defecated on him, waterboarded him, poured liquor down his throat and forced him to ingest drugs.
During the weeks that followed, public outcry for an arrest of Lehrkamp’s attackers reached a fevered pitch. The police department and district attorney assured the public they were investigating the crime, but in a statement to media on April 4, 2023 Jackson noted the community was “challenged with a desire with for swift justice and accountability, while balancing the need for a thorough and complete investigation.”
Curiously, in this same statement, Jackson placed some of the blame for this apparently slow-walked inquiry on social media.
“It is equally important we all work together to help dispel the misinformation being disseminated, much of which could perceivably threaten the lives and reputations of many innocent people,” Jackson continued. “Misinformation also delays and hampers the investigation as it needlessly requires the diversion of resources. Just as we have asked the public to help by providing information, you can also help by refusing to pass on information without verifying the facts.”
During the press conference announcing the arrests, Higgins stated the investigation revealed Lehrkamp attended the party of his own volition and consumed alcohol there voluntarily. He further stated no one poured alcohol down Lehrkamp’s throat – nor did anyone urinate or defecate on him.
“Quite frankly, the physiological response of the human being who has drank alcohol to the point that it is a toxin in their system will be (to) either sweat profusely, vomit or urinate,” Higgins said.
Of interest? Neither the spray paint nor duct tape was mentioned by Higgins or Jackson. Nor did either official elaborate as to how their investigation reached its conclusions. Interestingly, Higgins also claimed that by taking Lehrkamp to the hospital, Rooker and the other two individuals likely saved Trent Lehrkamp’s life.
Higgins further clarified the battery charges Rooker now faces stemmed from a different date and involved a different victim. He then proceeded to tell the media gathered that the amount of misinformation communicated in this investigation has “taken up an inordinate amount of time with both investigative resources as well as prosecution resources in this county in a time when very serious crimes have also been committed.”
While the long wait for justice for Trent Lehrkamp has ended with a dud, it is doubtful the results of this “investigation” will satisfy the outraged community – whose social media posts were the only reason police opened a criminal inquiry in the first place.
”I cannot believe how contemptuous the district attorney was of the social media information,” Suwanee, Georgia attorney Bonnie Rich told me. “But for social media, nothing would have ever been investigated.”
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”The contempt the DA exhibited for the victim and concerned members of the public is unacceptable,” Rich added.
As previously noted, alleged perpetrators of this torture – and previous incidents of abuse involving Lehrkamp – are purportedly students at Glynn Academy, a public school in Brunswick. School officials acknowledged some of them were “current students,” according to local radio station WGIG 98.7.
As previously reported, several of these individuals hail from prominent local families. One of the families whose teenager was reportedly involved in at least one of the assaults is affiliated with the local newspaper which first reported on the latest incident – classifying it as “hazing.”
This news outlet is continuing to investigate the circumstances which led to last month’s alleged abuse – as well as Lehrkamp’s troubled life leading up to the incidents. As we previously reported, Lehrkamp’s mother, Jaymie Lehrkamp, passed away in March of 2021 at the age of 43. Meanwhile his father, Mark Lehrkamp, left the home several months later to move in with his current girlfriend, Jamie Lee Linna (a.k.a. Jamie Burriss).
The Tennessee Avenue home was owned by Frankie Lynn Ross, Jaymie’s mother. Ross died in September of 2021 – seven months after her daughter passed away. At the time of Ross’ death, she was reportedly investigating the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death – which she deemed to be suspicious.
Stay tuned for much more on this story as it continues to unfold …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Jenn Wood is FITSNews' incomparable research director. She's also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she's married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at [email protected].
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