Sex offender charged in infant’s death

Ryan Neil Hicks
Ryan Neil Hicks

A man was charged with murder Saturday in the death of an infant in Watauga County.

Watauga County deputies say they received a 911 call about an infant not breathing on Ray Brown Road in Boone around 11:47 a.m. Wednesday. The infant went to Watauga Medical Center Emergency Department before being taken to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, where the infant died on Friday.

Ryan Neil Hicks, 24, who was already charged with negligent child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury in the case, was additionally charged with second-degree murder and sex offender using social website. Hicks is a registered sex offender, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Deputies have not identified the relationship between Hicks and the infant but say Hicks lived at the home on Ray Brown Road, where officials were called Wednesday.

Hicks was given a $1.1 million bond and is expected to appear in court April 6. The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Social Services, Children’s Advocacy Center of the Blue Ridge and the NC State Bureau of Investigation are assisting in the investigation. Autopsy results are pending.