Laurence Lovette and Demario Atwater apparently managed to find the cracks in North Carolina's legal system.
The high school dropouts were convicted of crimes but put back on the street by a system that failed to notice when they were arrested again.
Both are now behind bars, held without bail and charged with murdering two college students.
The 17-year-old Lovette is accused in the slaying of a graduate student at the Duke University, and he and the 21-year-old Atwater are charged in the death of the University of North Carolina student body president.
Robert Lee Guy, director of the state Division of Community Corrections, he can't speculate whether Carson's slaying could have been avoided if the system had worked as intended, but he acknowledges that the question is on everyone's mind.