Suspected S.C. serial killer shot to death in N.C.
Police: Ballistics, vehicle link five slayings to man killed near Charlotte
The man believed to be responsible for a series of five slayings in South Carolina in six days was shot and killed early Monday by police in North Carolina, law enforcement officials told NBC News.
The man, whose identity was not released, opened fire when police in Gaston County, N.C., west of Charlotte, questioned him shortly before 3 a.m. about an open arrest warrant, police said. Police, who were questioning the man after responding to a reported burglary, returned fire, killing him, they said.
Ballistics tests showed that a gun recovered at the scene was a match for the weapon that was used to kill five people in Gaffney, S.C., officials of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division told NBC station WCNC of Charlotte early Monday evening.
“We have him. He’s our serial killer,” division Deputy Director Neil Dolan told reporters later Monday evening.
Investigators said a gray Ford Explorer found outside the house also matched the description of the vehicle believed to have been used by the killer.
Dolan said the suspect had an extensive criminal record. No other details were immediately made available.
Five fatal shootings over six days
The killings began a week ago Saturday in Cherokee County, S.C., when the wife of Kline Cash, a 63-year-old peach farmer, found her husband shot to death in their rural home. Then, on Wednesday, relatives discovered the bodies of Gena Linder Parker, 50, and her mother, Hazel Linder, 83, bound and shot to death at Linder’s home.
Thursday, Stephen Tyler and his daughter Abby, 15, were shot as they were closing the Tyler Home Center near downtown Gaffney. He died Thursday, while Abby Tyler fought for her life for two days before dying Saturday.
Hundreds of people thronged funeral services Sunday for the mother and daughter. Law enforcement officers provided security for the family and mourners. The crime spree forced many people in Cherokee County to curtail Fourth of July festivities.
Celebration turns to mourning
The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C., reported that the Tylers’ minister at Cherokee Avenue Baptist Church, Clyde Thomas, urged congregants to keep the faith in the face of tragedy. The newspaper said he had a pistol in his office Saturday.
“As Christians, we don’t live by explanations. We live by promises. We live by faith, not sight,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he had originally planned to deliver a sermon titled “Happy Birthday, America” for the Fourth of July service. But instead of upbeat patriotic music, Sunday’s program was changed to add hymns reflecting a time of mourning.
The killings alarmed many residents, and some talked of arming themselves.
“The irony is that the freedoms we have, we’re locked behind closed doors with firearms,” Thomas said. “We should be celebrating freedom, but we find ourselves very much restrained by fear.”
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Rural S.C. terrorized by 5 killings in past week
The shootings all occurred within about 10 miles of each other in Cherokee County, a community of 54,000 people set amid peach orchards and farms.
Ron Mott of NBC News in Gaffney, S.C.; NBC station WCNC in Charlotte, N.C.; and The Associated Press contributed to this report.