‘Mother of the community’: How her family remembers Pineville victim

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 10:57 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 11:26 PM EDT
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MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - The family of a Pineville woman is remembering her as the man accused of her killing sits behind bars.

In the early morning of Aug. 8, Berkeley County deputies responded to the home of 86-year-old Essie Benekin Guest where a security alarm had been activated. They found her dead inside and deputies say a fire burning inside the home was intentionally set.

Lutrica Gethers, Guest’s daughter, said she remembers leaving her mother sitting on her porch at 6 p.m. the night before. She spoke with her on the phone at 10:23 p.m. and reminded her to arm her alarm.

At 1:50 a.m., Gethers received a call that her mother was dead.

Essie Benekin Guest, 86, was remembered as "the mother of her community" in Pineville. Guest...
Essie Benekin Guest, 86, was remembered as "the mother of her community" in Pineville. Guest died early on Aug. 8 after what investigators say was a burglary that turned violent.(Guest Family)

Guest’s sister, Daisy Green, says Guest was the oldest of six kids. Green and Guest were the only girls.

“That’s my sister,” Green said. “I’m going to miss my sister. I ain’t got no more sister.”

The man accused of her death and of setting the home on fire, 31-year-old Shelton Romone Brown, of Pineville, is facing charges of murder, first-degree burglary, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and first-degree arson.

Investigators say Brown lived behind Guest. Deputies say the preliminary investigation points to robbery as the motive and that Brown was attempting to rob Guest when a struggle ensued.

Brown faced a bond court judge Monday afternoon.

Sierra Benekin, Guest’s niece, spoke at Brown’s bond hearing.

“You broke into her residence, and you took her life,” Benekin said. “A life that you did not deserve to take.”

When talking about Guest, the family describes her as everybody’s friend and a pillar in her church. Gethers says she didn’t deserve this.

“Just a very giving, loving person that just didn’t deserve, you know, to die like that,” Gethers said. “She didn’t deserve to be unrecognizable, you know, when they had to put her back together. You know, that was not, I can’t even imagine.”

The Rev. George McCray, the pastor at Nazareth Reformed Episcopal Church where Guest attended, says the Pineville community is a place where everybody knows everybody, and he couldn’t imagine this happening where he lives.

“Say someone is accused of this, that is a part of this family,” McCray said. “Because he is family even though what has took place and how the evidence is pointing towards him, he is still family. And to see family on family, not on Pineville Circle.”

Shelton Romone Brown, 31, of Pineville, is charged with murder, first-degree burglary,...
Shelton Romone Brown, 31, of Pineville, is charged with murder, first-degree burglary, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and first-degree arson, according to jail records.(Berkeley County Sheriff's Office)

The judge denied bond for Brown at Monday’s hearing.

Wilbur Gethers, Guest’s son-in-law and Lutrica’s husband, says that decision is one that is headed in the right direction.

“The people say, ‘No justice, no peace,’” Wilbur Gethers said. “We want justice, so we can have peace.”

“Let the system prove him guilty,” McCray said. “Then, if the system cannot prove him guilty, we are not to convict him.”

Guest’s family said they are not vindictive, but they just want justice moving forward.

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