In Brevard fatal stabbing, authorities identify teen victim, arrest third suspect


    Police have identified the victim in a fatal stabbing in Brevard as 18-year-old Saul N. Ayala, a former Brevard Middle and Brevard High School student.

    Brevard Police Chief Phil Harris said that Ayala had been living with his family in Florida, but had been back in Brevard recently, staying with friends.

    Chief Harris said a cell phone was found at the murder scene, and by looking through the phone they were able to identify him.

    Harris also said that Ayala has struggled in recent years, but his detectives tell him Ayala always told the truth when police had any interaction with him.

    Harris said Ayala's mother was understandably devastated when she got the news that her son had been murdered.

    He does not yet know the exact reason why Ayala was with the suspects on Washington avenue at 2:45 a.m. on Thursday, the night he was fatally stabbed, but the chief says he now believes the men attacked Ayala.

    He said Ayala knew the suspects.

    RELATED | Police charge 2 men with murder in Brevard stabbing

    Authorities had previously arrested two men in connection with Ayala's stabbing death. The police chief says Connell Hawkins, 28, and Chadley Norris, 34, are both charged with first-degree murder in the killing.

    James Alexander Ray, 20, of Wilmington, is the new suspect, is also charged with first-degree murder, and is also in custody. All three are being held without bond.

    Police say they are are continuing to gather evidence and information, some of which is conflicting. They say they believe all three suspects arrested were all present during Ayala's murder, but it is unclear what roles they played.

    The chief says Norris and Ray have confessed to their involvement in the attack.

    But the chief says there is conflicting information on exactly who held the knife and stabbed Ayala Thursday night.

    The Brevard Police Department said it received a 911 call at 2:45 a.m. Thursday, reporting a fight in front of a home on Washington Avenue. Authorities said officers arrived within two minutes and found a youth who had been stabbed to death.

    Authorities say numerous leads have come from the community resulting in key information concerning the crime.

    Tips led multiple agencies to West French Broad Street home on Thursday afternoon, where authorities executed a search warrant in relation to the stabbing.

    The sheriff's Special Response Team made what authorities called a "high-risk entry" into the home.

    The team used percussion grenades in the entry because, authorities said, of the potential for violence and the presence of aggressive dogs alleged to live in the home.

    The team found five people inside, including all three suspects. A total of five people were taken into custody from the house for questioning.

    The three suspects went in for questioning Thursday.

    Hawkins has a long criminal history of felony convictions in Transylvania County and Henderson County, including felony theft, assault on a female, and breaking and entering.

    Chadley Norris of Brevard also has a criminal history.

    All had their initial court appearances Friday morning before a magistrate.

    Chief Harris said assistance from Transylvania sheriffs investigators, the SBI and other law enforcement led to the speed of the investigation and arrests. He said more arrests could be coming in the case.

    Brevard has not had a murder in 8 years.

    The Brevard Police Department is working with the SBI and Transylvania County Sheriff's Office in this investigation.

    Anyone with additional information is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers of Transylvania at (828) 86 CRIME (828) 862-7463.

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