Durham County News

Four Durham men charged in gruesome July 2018 murder

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) - A California man found murdered and burned in Durham told his girlfriend he thought he might be killed during a trip to North Carolina, according to search warrants filed this week.

Four men face murder charges connected to the July 2018 death of Ly Teng Nhiayi. Warrants indicate Teng flew to North Carolina to meet Derrick Tyson in order to collect $50,000 owed to Teng for marijuana sales.

Tyson, Joshua McClain, Reginald McClain, and Walter Thorne-Price are accused of killing Teng on July 26, after investigators discovered his body inside a burning car on Guardian Drive. Teng flew into RDU earlier that day and checked in to a motel in Morrisville.

Investigators said Teng told his family that one of Tyson's associates would pick him up from the hotel that evening to first go to dinner and then travel to Greensboro for the payment. Court documents reveal Teng told his girlfriend that if he did not make it back, it was because Tyson killed him.

Officers spoke with Teng's mother, with whom he worked as a connection between marijuana growers in California and drug dealers in North Carolina. The victim's mother and girlfriend told investigators that Teng and Tyson were each responsible for transporting a load of marijuana from California to North Carolina in May 2018. Teng told Tyson his load was seized by law enforcement in Texas, according to the warrants. Teng's mother told officers she believed the murder was due to Tyson believing that Teng betrayed him.

In September, warrants revealed Teng was shot before the car was set on fire.

Phone records show there were multiple calls made shortly before Teng's death from a phone that was bought at 5:11 p.m. on the day of the murder. Video surveillance shows Reginald McClain, Walter Thorne-Price, and Kenyawna Powell purchase the cell phone at a Durham Dollar General, according to the warrants.

The only number called by that newly-purchased phone was Teng's, and the phone was deactivated that night. Cellular location data traced the phone to the area of Guardian Drive where officers found Teng's body, then traveling to the motel room where Teng planned to stay the night, and then returned to Guardian drive.

The Durham Police Department investigator's report said he "believes that the phone was activated for the sole purpose of facilitating the murder of Teng." 

Other phones owned by some of the suspects in the case had location data at Guardian Drive shortly before the discovery of the burning car. Additional phone records reveal communication between other people including Tyson and some incarcerated associates of the McClain brothers. Warrants said many of the people involved are known gang members.

Officers reviewed audio of phone calls made by inmates at the jail and found one recording in which an inmate asked one of the suspects "who else was in the car with him" and after giving a name of a second suspect, that man joined the phone call.

Derrick Tyson is charged with murder and is being held without bond.

Walter Thorne-Price is charged with murder and failing to appear in court, with a total bond of $2,001,000. He also has a federal detainer without bond.

Reginald McClain is charged with murder and has a $2,000,000 bond.

Joshua McClain was not caught until January. He is charged with murder, fleeing to elude arrest, reckless driving to endanger, speeding, resisting public officer, fictitious/altered title/registration card/tag, failing to stop at a stop sign/flashing red light, driving while license revoked, and failing to appear in court. He is being held without bond.

Police arrested a third McClain brother, Jarrett, as part of the search and capture of Joshua. Investigators charged Jarrett McClain with assault with a deadly weapon, driving left of center, failing to stop at a red light, fleeing to elude arrest reckless driving to endanger, speeding, and no operator's license. according to arrest records. He is not currently in jail.

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