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Crime-filled start to new year

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By Nicole Johnson  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Lowcountry started the year with a month filled with violence and crime, and the Red Cross helped a record number of people who lost their homes to fire.

Law enforcers from Charleston, Berkeley, and Colleton Counties start 2009 investigating several murders.

The very first murder of the year happened in North Charleston when police say a teenager gunned down 17-year-old Parris Green on Accabee Street.

"This is the first in North Charleston. We were doing so well as the New Year coming. Let that be the first and the last. Let this be the first and the last," victim's aunt Barbara Green said.

It wasn't the last. Police and Sheriff's Offices from across the Lowcountry investigated the murders of five other people during the month of January. Most recently they are investigating the shooting death of 23-year-old Vladimir Merilice outside a James Island night club.

Businesses and banks were targets of armed robbers this month. They hit up a James Island Chinese restaurant and even a pizza delivery man.

 "I was looking at him watching him walk over and approach said, "Hey!" I look up and pulled a gun out of his waistband and said "Hey! Give me all your stuff!" delivery man Daniel Ringhiser said.

Suspected serial bank robber Jeffrey Frye is taken down here in North Charleston, wanted by the FBI and agencies statewide. Our Live 5 News cameras were there when authorities took him into custody after a two hour long standoff. Investigators say he hit up seven South Carolina banks often handing the teller a note demanding cash.

The Red Cross says it's been a busy month for them, too. They've helped 142 people throughout the Lowcountry, who were displaced from their homes because of fire.

A 31-day start to 2009 filled with murder, crime, and sometimes deadly fires.

So far investigators have solved four of the six murders this year. They still need information that can help them with the murder of Walterboro man Rudy Marshall, and the most recently the shooting death of 23-year-old Vladimir Merilice. Authorities say it happened right outside a James Island nightclub. Charleston County Sheriff's deputies say Merilice's murder happened at about 9 p.m. Friday outside the Key Club on Fort Johnson Road. They say two people were taken into custody for questioning. If anyone has information they should call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.

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