COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Authorities say the son of a candidate for Colleton County sheriff is among five people who were arrested in connection to a multi-county residential burglary ring.
The Colleton County Sheriff's Office announced on Wednesday the arrest of 22-year-old Otis Lamonte Rhodes Jr. of Walterboro.
According to authorities, Rhodes is the son of former Walterboro Public Safety Chief Otis L. Rhodes who is running for sheriff of Colleton County.
Rhodes, Jr. was taken into custody Wednesday in Atlanta by the U.S Marshall's Fugitive Task Force, Roberts said.
Also charged were twin brothers Lindell and Linzell Williams, both 18, of Walterboro who were arrested on July 14, Colleton County Sheriff's Lt. Shane Roberts said.
Esser Williams, 18, of Yemassee, was arrested after investigators spent two weeks tracking him down, Roberts said.
A fourth suspect, Brooks Drawdy, 34, of Walterboro, was arrested on Aug. 8, 2016.
Roberts said the suspects are charged with multiple counts of first-degree burglary "stemming from crimes committed during the operation and execution of the multi-county burglary ring."
The investigation into the alleged ring began in December when Colleton County detectives discovered that a series of burglaries all shared several key similarities, Colleton County Sheriff's Lt. Shane Roberts said.
Deputies say a home on Possum Corner Road in Colleton County was burglarized on Dec. 20, 2015. The resident was a single mother of two small children and the burglars stole all of the Christmas presents from underneath the Christmas tree, they say.
Roberts said a witness provided information that helped Investigators develop several possible suspects.
On Jan. 18, three homes were burglarized in the Islandton area of Colleton County.
In one incident, the Victims' 15year-old daughter was home and hid inside a bathroom while the suspects looted the home, deputies say.
Witnesses again assisted authorities by providing pertinent information.
This time, investigators were able to corroborate statements and uncovered additional evidence, and two suspects were arrested and charged with two of the burglaries, deputies said.
In the late Spring of 2016, the Colleton County Sheriff's Office was notified of more residential burglaries. Hampton County Investigators reached out to local authorities for assistance on similar burglaries, at which point the two agencies began working the cases together, Roberts said.
By July, Colleton and Hampton Investigators identified some 40 residential burglaries that appeared to be linked, including at least 12 in Hampton County and an estimated 20 to 30 in Colleton County, deputies say.
Roberts said the vast majority of the victims reported multiple firearms stolen. Investigators estimate more than 200 firearms have been stolen and presumably sold in the streets.
The investigation is still active and additional arrests and more charges are anticipated, he said.