Investigators: Murder suspect was hired by victim to remodel house

David J. Penn (Source: Berkeley County Sheriff's Office)
David J. Penn (Source: Berkeley County Sheriff's Office)

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office says 52-year-old David Penn was hired by a Moncks Corner woman to help remodel the inside of her house. After she was found strangled to death Saturday, authorities arrested Penn on charges of murder and, most recently, grand larceny.

The Sheriff's Office says that the working relationship between the Penn and Kathleen Chrastina may be the key to solving the case.

But neighbors are staying on guard.

"She was a nice good person and to have her be strangled, oh my god, it's terrible," says Chrastina's neighbor Catherine Llyod.

Lloyd says 53-year-old Kathleen Chrastina was very quiet and only left the house for work, as a painter, or church.

Private property signs are posted all over Chrastina's lot, but it's what she installed inside her home a year ago after her husband passed away that has neighbors puzzled as to how someone got in.

"She lived with her three cats she had a light in the backyard put in," says another neighbor, Cathy Sesta. "She also installed three dead bolts."

Sesta used to watch Chrastina's cats when she went out of town and knew how security conscious she'd gotten which makes her death that much more troubling for the small Moncks Corner community.

"Everybody is in shock," says Sesta.

Deputies say they received a tip about the incident that led them to the Lakewood Subdivision. When they arrived at Horres Circle, the body of a white female was found inside the house.

Authorities have arrested and charged 53-year-old David J. Penn of Bonneau with murder in connection with the woman's death. Deputies say Penn is homeless and was living in a motel.

The autopsy results revealed that Chrastina was strangled to death.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is asking for anyone with information concerning the incident to please contact them at 843-723-3800 or call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.

According to his rap sheet, murder suspect David Penn has been convicted twice of criminal domestic violence.

Convictions include a 2004 incident where Penn was found guilty for purse snatching and forgery. The following year he was convicted for possession of crack cocaine. Later that year, he was also convicted for giving false information and drug possession.

According to arrest records, Penn was convicted of cocaine possession in 2006 and second-degree criminal domestic violence.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office says Penn is due in bond court at 7 pm and will be facing charges of Grand Larceny on top of Murder because deputies say he stole Chrastina's car and credit cards after the murder.

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