Victim's family calls murder suspect an 'animal' in bond court

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The nephew of a murder victim told a bond court judge Monday night that his aunt hired David Penn to do some remodeling work around her house in Moncks Corner and was killed last weekend by the handyman.

"All she tried to do was give him a job and help him out, and that's how he pays her back, by killing her," said the nephew of Kathleen Chrastina, who was strangled to death Saturday night.

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The judge denied bond on the murder charge. Penn confessed to killing Chrastina, according to the affidavit.

"I want to ask the courts to do whatever they can to keep this animal off the streets," Chrastina's nephew said.

Berkeley County sheriffs deputies say Penn strangled 53-year-old Charastina then stole her van and credit cards.

"It's very eery to know he's done something like this," said Penn's landlord, who asked to be identified only as "Francis."

Francis said deputies woke her late Saturday night asking to search the trailer she rented to Penn.

"Oh Lord, I don't even want to go in it because I don't know what went on in this trailer," Francis said.

Francis spent Monday clearing out the belongings Penn left behind, which includes some tools and other equipment he used to do odd jobs around the Bonneau Beach neighborhood where he lived.

Francis said that's how she met Penn back in March. He was asking for work and told her he was homeless. She had an empty trailer and told him he could stay there until he got back on his feet. She said he stayed there on and off since then.

She said when deputies told her why they were searching for Penn, she couldn't believe it.

"That's what's so shocking. He was nice, he wasn't aggressive," Francis said.

Penn will face a circuit court judge on Dec. 9 for the murder charge. Bond for a murder charge can only be set at a higher court. Penn was also charged with grand larceny, and bail was set at $50,000.

According to arrest records, Penn has been convicted twice for criminal domestic violence, once in 2003, and again in 2007.

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