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Friends and family of Lennon Lacy, the 17-year-old North Carolina teen found hanged, believe that his death may have been connected to a relationship he had with a 32-year-old white woman who, they say, turned to prostitution to support her crack habit, according to a New York Daily News report.

Lennon's body was found Aug. 29 hanging from a swing set from a dog leash and a belt. A medical examiner's report ruled the death a suicide. Lennon's family and friends immediately rejected the report, saying that the high school football player did not kill himself and was not depressed; in fact, the family claims, he was excited about an upcoming game.   

"Someone killed him 'cause he was dating an older white woman,'" Justin Jones, 17, a friend of Lennon, told the Daily News.

Since Lennon's death, the Daily News reports, the girlfriend, Michelle Brimhall, has "gone into hiding."

On Friday the FBI—after prompting from Lennon's family and the NAACP—launched an investigation into Lennon's death. Local police told the Daily News that they are "still investigating Lacy's death despite the coroner ruling it a suicide," and it is unclear whether local authorities ever questioned Brimhall before "she went into hiding," the Daily News reports.

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"It is implausible for Lennon to have been able to act alone in hanging himself," Dr. Christena Roberts, an independent pathologist hired by Lennon's family, found.

Brimhall's parents confirmed to the Daily News that their daughter has a drug problem and added that they hadn't heard from her in weeks.

Claudia Lacy, Lennon's mother, told the newspaper that she confronted Brimhall about the age difference between her and Lennon. "A 17-year-old should not be associated with anyone 32," Lacy told the Daily News. "She [Brimhall] should have took into consideration he was a child."

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Lennon's brother, Pierre Lacy, told the newspaper that his brother had been called the n-word and threatened by people who knew he was dating Brimhall. "She was seeing other people and prostituting herself to pay her bills and to afford her habit," Pierre Lacy told the Daily News. "She would just get angry with him [Lennon] for questioning her."

Justin told the newspaper that he warned his friend to leave his girlfriend alone. "I said, 'You need to leave her alone; she's bad news,' " Justin said. "He said, 'I can't. I got feelings for her.' "

Read more at the New York Daily News.