Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Mystery Couple

A Murder Weapon

Authorities thought they had their best lead yet when, about four months after the slayings, police found the gun they believe was the murder weapon.

A North Carolina man suspected of driving drunk was arrested while traveling through Latta, S.C. Police say they found a gun that had part of its serial number filed off in the man's car. The gun, believed to have been stolen, was sent to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for examination. SLED experts said the bullets taken from that gun matched those retrieved from the bodies.

''To this day, they still believe that was the murder weapon,' McGehee said.

Authorities said a polygraph test indicated the man was not always truthful during questioning, but they never charged him with the killings. They said they couldn't place him at the scene of the crime.

The man, who has since died, had an alibi: His wife was in a North Carolina hospital, and witnesses told police he was there visiting her. Investigators, wanting to see for themselves if it were possible for the man to sneak away to Sumter County and speed back to the North Carolina hospital, timed the drive.

It would have taken too long, they decided. So they let the one suspect they had go.

In the meantime, the bodies of the dead woman and man were at a local funeral home, lying inside a casket with a see-through lid.

Calls came in from several states, but none panned out. A distraught boyfriend looking for his missing girlfriend viewed the bodies, but it turned out he didn't know the dead woman.

Officials decided it was time to give the couple a Christian burial. A year and five days after they were killed, then-Sheriff I. Byrd Parnell arranged for the young woman and man to be buried at Bethel United.

About 200 people came to show their respects.

''As coroner, it's my responsibility to keep pursuing this, and as long as I can, I will,'' Moore said. ''The parents of this young man and woman may be deceased now, but I feel like they still have family somewhere looking for them.

"I can't forget this,'' she added, ''and the public has not forgotten this, either. I can't count the times when somebody hasn't asked, 'Have you ever found out who those children are?'


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