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Friends remember dead teen as popular, athletic

By Diana Rugg & Glenn Counts
WCNC-TV

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Mooresville police say that autopsy results will tell them how to proceed in their investigation into the mysterious death of a 14-year-old.

On Saturday the body of Aaron Willis was found on a trail located behind Montebello Drive in the Morrison Plantation Development.

“I'm expecting the physical examination to be done today or tomorrow...the final report we probably won’t receive for several months especially the toxicology," said Capt Joseph Cooke.

He said there were no obvious injuries to the body and right now it’s not clear how Aaron died.

The teen was very popular around his neighborhood; one of his favorite spots was the YMCA where he played on the basketball court.

"Knowing that he was up here playing ball and stuff we probably crossed paths it's very sad," said Sheldon Hipps a YMCA member.

While the death is something of a mystery, police have apparently determined that Aaron may not have been alone when he went into medical distress.

"We have interviewed several juveniles that were with him the day before there are some areas of the interviews were going to look into," said Cooke.

Police say the Medical Examiner should be able to tell them if more could have been done to help the teen.

“Aaron was a great guy,” said friend Stephen Daspit. “I always saw him in the neighborhood, walking around with friends.”

Daspit was shocked to hear about Willis’s death, but eager to share pictures and stories of him.

“He was always up at the YMCA,” said Daspit. “I saw him every single time I was there, shooting hoops with friends and whatnot, having a good time.”

Neighbors said Sunday teens often spend a lot of time together in the neighborhood, and many of them like to walk the wooded trail. No one worried about them, because the teens always stayed out of trouble.

“It hits close to home.. literally close to home,” said Beth Toomey, whose home backs up to the trail. Toomey has three children, including a 14-year-old son.

She thinks about how she’ll discuss Willis’s death with her children when it comes up.

“As a parent you just want to do the best you can to help them be responsible and make good choices,” she said. “That'll be how we will approach it.”

Neighbors’ Facebook pages shared ideas Sunday about how Willis may have died. A woman who identified herself as a family member also shared a likely cause of death with NBC Charlotte on Sunday. Police said only an autopsy could confirm what happened.

While neighbors expressed shock at the sudden death, most said their hearts go out to the teen’s family.

“The one thing I always had in this neighborhood is peace of mind,” said Lilyan Hill, “and it breaks my heart for them.”

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