Coroner identifies second man found burned, buried in Goose Creek

Neighbors react to double murder investigation in Goose Creek
Dubar. (Source: CCDC)
Dubar. (Source: CCDC)
James Loftis (Source: Berkeley Co. Sheriff's Office)
James Loftis (Source: Berkeley Co. Sheriff's Office)

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Berkeley County Coroner has identified the second man found dead and badly burned in a shallow grave in Goose Creek.

"DNA test has confirmed the second victim is 32-year-old James Cody Newland, of Ladson," Coroner Bill Salisbury said in a press release. "He died from a gunshot wound to the head."

Earlier this month, Salisbury identified the first victim as Guma Dubar of North Charleston, who was a taxi cab driver. According to Salisbury, Dubar was exhumed with gunshot wounds to the head and torso. He was out on bond in connection with a 2015 drive-by shooting that left one man injured.

Both bodies were barely recognizable due to 100 percent thermal burns, the coroner said.

Investigators attended the autopsies on Monday, March 7.

Salisbury was out at the home on Pandora Drive with the Berkeley County Rescue Squad that Monday. He said they were using the squad's drone to take aerial shots of the property, including the backyard where the two bodies were found in a shallow grave.

Goose Creek Police are also interviewing witnesses and following leads on the deaths, according to Goose Creek Assistant Chief of Police Maj. John Grainger.

Grainger says there are no 911 calls logged in the case and officers in his department are not equipped with body cameras. Grainger declined to discuss the activities of the suspect, James Edwards Loftis, prior to his arrest, citing concern that doing so could jeopardize the investigation.

Loftis, who is charged with two counts of murder, was denied bond Sunday by a magistrate judge because only a circuit court judge can set bond on a murder charge. A bond hearing with a circuit judge will be scheduled at a later date.

Officers responded to a home on South Pandora Drive at approximately 10:15 p.m.  Sunday, March 6 after Loftis's wife reported her husband was suicidal and claimed to have killed two people and buried them in the back yard while she was out of town, Grainger said.

The Berkeley County Coroner's Office was called in to investigate after two bodies were located.

According to the affidavit, Loftis told police he took a cab home early Saturday from a night club. He got out of the cab and went inside his home. In a statement to police, Loftis says the cab driver and another person knocked on his door demanding the cab fare. Loftis says they pushed their way into his home. Loftis said he then got his gun firing eight shots, killing them both.

Investigators say Loftis' wife showed responding officers a bullet hole she located in the living room wall. Officers then discovered a "disturbed area of dirt" in the back yard.

Loftis voluntarily agreed to provide a statement at the Goose Creek Police Department, court documents state.

Loftis told police he moved the cab to Old Back River Road and walked back home. On the way back, he said, he stopped at a gas station on Red Bank Road and purchased five gallons of gas, returned to his home and cleaned the home with bleach, then burned his clothing and towels used to clean up the home with the bodies of the victims.

Family members of the cab driver were at the bond hearing Sunday night. They had a message for Loftis and words of forgiveness.

"I just want to say I forgive you and I suggest that you tell your other cohorts, because I know it wasn't just you," a daughter of one of the victims said at the bond hearing.

The taxicab in police custody is registered to Global Mobile TS, Grainger said. The vehicle was seized for forensic investigation.

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