Police: No suspects, but numerous leads in burned body case

Detectives investigating Monday afternoon. (Source: WCSC)
Detectives investigating Monday afternoon. (Source: WCSC)

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Police say they have no suspects in the case of a body found burned in a barrel in Goose Creek as the coroner's office works to identify the victim.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, according to the Berkeley County Coroner's Office.

Police found the body in the backyard of a home in the Boulder Bluff neighborhood where they were performing a welfare check at the request of the resident's daughter, who had not been able to reach him by phone, Goose Creek Assistant Police Chief John Grainger said.

Investigators do not have a suspect, but are following numerous leads, Grainger said.

The Berkeley County Coroner's Office said on Tuesday they may have to rely on DNA to make a positive identification of the body police said was burned beyond recognition.

"We have no idea if this body is black, white, male or female at this point," Berkeley County Chief Deputy Coroner George Oliver said Monday night. Investigators hope the examination will help identify the victim and determine the cause of death. Oliver says the body had no hot ashes or smoke on it and could have been in the barrel for some time.

Jamal Mitchell lives two doors down from the crime scene.

"Then I got questions, people asking me if I smelled like burning flesh, I'm like no," Mitchell said Tuesday.

Police responded to a home on Madeline Drive Monday at approximately 7:30 p.m. to check on the welfare of a resident after his daughter told police she had not heard from him since Saturday, Grainger said. The resident's daughter also told police her father was "at-risk" due to health issues, Grainger said.

Officers found the home secure with no signs of forced entry, an incident report states. The resident's daughter told police she had a key to the home, but that her father often changed locks frequently because he has people renting a room from him and then moving out. Her key opened one lock on the front door, but not a second, and she gave police permission to force their way in, the report states.

"He really was too nice if you ask me," said Trasea Heyward who knows the homeowner. "I know he let a lot of people, strangers come stay with him, didn't charge them rent or anything like that."

During a search of the home, officers found the resident's dog in a bedroom but no signs of a struggle or ransacking, the report states. The resident's daughter walked through the home with investigators and said she believed a television and an X-box was possibly missing from the living room.

The resident's daughter was able to give police the names of an ex-roommate and a current roommate of her father and provide a photo of a second man, the report states.

A neighbor told investigators he had not seen the resident since Friday and a second neighbor said she had not seen him for "a couple of days," police say.

Investigators do suspect foul play.

"Many people think about doing such things but really most people won't do it. That's what makes this so disgusting in many eyes," Mitchell said.

"It makes me feel really afraid now," Heyward said.

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