GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned Gwinnett County police have arrested and charged three people in connection with the murder of 14-year-old Paul Sampleton.
Police believe the teen was killed over high-end sneakers. Two of the suspects are just teens themselves, but have been charged as adults.
Sampleton attended Grayson High School and was a star athlete who dreamed of playing Division 1 football. Sampleton was shot multiple times inside his home on Haynescrest Court on Dec. 19. His father discovered him bound and gagged.
Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh has followed this story since Sampleton was killed. Since then, Channel 2 Action News has uncovered several aspects of the case, but held off on reporting as to not compromise the case at the request of detectives.
Friday, for the first time, Kavanaugh sat down with all the detectives working the case to discuss what led up to the arrests.
Police have charged 15-year-old Larnell Sillah with felony murder. Investigators would not elaborate on the role he played.
Police said Sillah and Sampleton both attended Grayson High School. Police believe they were acquaintances, not friends.
Police have also charged 15-year-old Achiel Morgan and 18-year-old Romaine Stewart with the planning of the crime.
Police said definitively that the motive in the case was Sampleton's collection of high-end sneakers. Sampleton was involved in what's known among teenagers as the “shoe game.”
He collected and traded the shoes. Friends and classmates said Sampleton was known for having one of the biggest and best collections in the game.
"They were aware that he had nice things. They were aware that he traded in these high end sneakers," said Cpl. Jake Smith with the Gwinnett County Police Department.
According to a search warrant obtained by Channel 2, the day of the shooting, several pairs of high-end sneakers were stolen, including the pair Sampleton was wearing that day.
Police served multiple search warrants at the same home on Farmstead Court in Grayson, not far from where Sampleton lived with his mother. Police said witnesses spotted a silver BMW in the neighborhood the day of the shooting. It was registered to a person at the Farmstead Court address.
"Essentially we had a witness in the neighborhood where the homicide happened who saw the vehicle," Smith said.
Stephanie Stone, Paul's mother, told Kavanaugh the arrests in her son's murder won't bring him back. But she said now she can begin to heal.
"I just felt a sense of relief, a sense of euphoria. It was just like a smile had been planted on my face," said Stone. "I am so glad that we're on the road for closure."
Stone said her son’s death never had to happen.
"It is sad that you got three young black men that are going to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, or whatever may come for them, over material things," Stone said.
As for the parents of the men that were arrested, Stone said she has no sympathy for them.
“I'm not going to say that I feel bad for those parents. I'm not, because I feel bad for me. These parents are the ones raising these types of children. They're raising them,” Stone said.
The investigation continues into other suspects.