Picture courtesy of the French family
Wentworth, NC -- The Rockingham County Sheriff issued a statement to media outlets Friday morning in an effort to dispel rumors regarding an arrest in the murders of Troy and LaDonna French.
Sheriff Sam Page said that no arrests have been made in shooting deaths of the French's. The couple were killed in what deputies characterize as a home invasion on Saturday, February 4.
"I have the utmost confidence that my Investigative Team WILL bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice," said Page in the statement. "It is because of that confidence I can say that WHEN an arrest is made, the media will be notified without delay."
"I understand and appreciate the concerns of the citizens, not only in the Bethany area, but throughout Rockingham County; but my Investigative team needs time to examine all elements of this case. This is too important to risk any mistakes by rushing. I would ask the citizens and the media to be patient with us as we continue to investigate this tragedy and seek the person(s) responsible."
The statement comes in the wake of comments made on social media saying that an arrest had already taken place.
Some of these comments were made in the Facebook commenting area of Digtriad articles. Those comments have since been removed.
Some called that censorship, but we have a job as a digital news company. We asked a legal expert about the risks of these comments on internet sites.
"Not only does Channel 2 have the right, Channel 2 has the obligation not to publish slanderous material," explained attorney Locke Clifford. "Otherwise Channel 2 could be liable in a slander lawsuit, a libel lawsuit by somebody who got injured by a maliciously false statement."
Over the past week many of you have commented on our Facebook page.
Clifford agrees it's one of the many places to share feelings about the tragic killings of Troy and LaDonna French inside their home Saturday morning.
"We have freedom of speech in this country and it carries with it the responsibility of free speech."
Clifford said the danger comes when that speech turns towards accusations about a person.
"You can't un-ring the bell when it goes on the internet."
Clifford explained it's like advertising to the world what you think.
"You are putting it on a billboard for the whole world to see and you are making a permanent record of it. You don't get a free ride if you slander somebody. You could be held to provide that person monetary damages for whatever loss that person suffered because of the slander or the libel," concluded Clifford.
Clifford said the hard part might be proving who said it.
With the anonymity that the internet allows with usernames, it makes it difficult.