‘Make it your business’: Nonprofit spreads message on child abuse after Rockingham teen’s death

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — The Rockingham community is pushing for justice after a 15-year-old boy was killed in January.

On Jan. 20, officers responded to a home on Biggs Boulevard, where they found Casey Johnson unresponsive.

When officers arrived at the home, they gave the unconscious teen Narcan, because they thought he may have overdosed.

He was taken to UNC Hospital, where he died three days later.

Casey lived in the home with his mother, Michelle Lee Johnson, and her boyfriend, Joseph Ray Carroll.

Johnson was arrested Friday and charged with murder.

Police arrested Carroll on Feb. 11 for the teenager’s death and charged him with murder, as well.

“You look back and think, ‘Gosh, what did we miss? What did we not see,’” neighbor Jamie Moss said.

Casey was beaten to death, according to court documents.

Channel 9 learned the family was in contact with the Department of Social Services, but officials declined to share information, saying it could jeopardize the murder investigation.

“When our children weren’t going to school, we know the numbers were going up as far as child abuse here in Richmond County,” said Katrina Chance, executive director at Richmond County Partnership for Children.

The nonprofit works to combat abuse by offering parenting circles for moms and dads to manage pandemic stressors.

Chance worries about similar cases in the community that may go unseen.

She said it takes a community to be vigilant and speak up.

“I just encourage everyone to make it your business,” Chance said.

“I think there is a huge sense of relief with everyone in town, we did not want it to fall through the cracks,” Jamie Moss, who lives nearby, said after Carroll’s arrest.

After the murder, neighbors have put a teddy bear and small memorial outside the Rockingham home. The close community wants to make sure Casey is not forgotten.

“It touched us all. We felt like he was one of our own and he still is,” one neighbor said.

Moss said he didn’t know Casey personally, but often saw him out running and would wave to him.

“You feel like there’s a level of guilt, like we failed one of our own,” he said.

One of the signs outside the home says “Stop Abuse” with a blue ribbon, which is often associated with child abuse awareness.

“You look back and think gosh, what did we miss? What did we not see that could have made a difference in this child’s life?” Moss said.

Casey’s obituary said the sophomore enjoyed boxing and running. He was an honor student at Richmond Senior High School and in JROTC.

The community is collectively grieving his death and neighbors have rallied together.

“We just want people to not forget the things that were done,” a neighbor said. “We will not let him be forgotten.”

They are determined to make sure Casey’s story is heard and his life is remembered.

“We don’t want this to be in vain. We want to honor him,” a neighbor said.

There was a candlelight memorial at Richmond Senior High School on Feb. 16 night to honor Casey’s life.

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Carroll and Johnson are being held at the Richmond County Jail. Police have not released any other information about possible additional charges.

This is an ongoing investigation. Return to this story for updates.