Eighteen-year-old arrested in murder of former Onslow Co. deputy

Will James Welch Jr. (Jacksonville Police Department)

JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - An 18-year-old has been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of a former Onslow County Sheriff's Office deputy.

Will James Welch, Jr., 18 of Jacksonville, was charged with an open count of murder in the shooting death of William Joseph Clifton.

Clifton, 48, of Richlands, was found dead at Woodlands Park in Jacksonville around 6:30 a.m. on July 7. He was a former Onslow County Sheriff's Office deputy until February of 2016.

The Daily News in Jacksonville reports Clifton's cause of death is listed as a "gunshot wound to chest." The newspaper also said Clifton suffered "multiple gunshot wounds (and) blunt force trauma." The newspaper said it got its information from an uncertified certificate of death.

Clifton was also being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation for alleged misconduct with a 12-year-old. "Jacksonville Police Detectives, in a joint investigation with Naval Criminal Investigative Services, have been working this case continuously since last Friday morning" said Captain Ashley Weaver, JPD Investigative Services Supervisor. "This continues to be an open and active investigation. We anticipate additional arrests pending further investigation. We will release additional information when we are able to. "We thank the NC State Bureau of Investigation and the Onslow County Sheriff's Office for their assistance in this investigation" said Chief Mike Yaniero, Director of Public Safety.

The reward for information in this case could total up to $5,000. The Jacksonville Police Department has added a $2,500 to the Crime Stoppers reward for information about the shooting. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact JPD Detective Daniel Karratti at (910) 938-6410, email or call Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identities. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text a Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637 (CRIMES).