‘These are monsters:’ Family of man found shot, burned, seeks justice

A family is mourning the loss of a 25-year-old who deputies say was lured into an abandoned house where he was ambushed and killed.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 10:47 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 4:11 AM EDT
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WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A family is mourning the loss of a 25-year-old who deputies say was lured into an abandoned house where he was ambushed and killed.

Daniel Altman’s remains were found last week in Kingstree.

His mom and sister say he was a resilient, headstrong loving person with a larger-than-life personality and a smile that would light every room he entered.

“He probably lived more in 25 years than I have in 54,” Daniel’s mom, Lea Creel, says. “He had a kind and loving spirit, he was easy on the eyes and he was just your average all-American child. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Creel says when Daniel originally did not come home, the family had a sense something was off. She says Daniel was the type of guy that would have found his way home no matter what.

“We knew he met with an evil force, and there was a chance he would not be coming back,” Creel says.

Creel says Daniel was lured to Kingstree by a dating app, thinking he was meeting up with a woman.

Instead, according to the Williamsburg County Sheriff’s Office, he was ambushed, shot and eventually, his body was burned near an abandoned house.

“Monsters is what they are; these are not human forms, these are monsters,” Creel said. “And they murdered my child in cold blood for his car and his debit card.”

After the shooting, deputies say four people stole Daniel’s car and debit card. But ultimately, Creel says what they really stole was Daniel’s life.

“I will not stop,” Creel says. “I have nothing to lose at this point. Absolutely nothing to lose. I will fight until they spend every waking moment in a jail cell. I hope they get really accustomed to where they are. Because that is where I intend for them to be for a very long time.”

So far, four people have been arrested in connection to Daniel’s death.

Related: 4 facing multiple charges after discovery of remains in Kingstree, deputies say

Daniel’s sister, Caroline Altman, says if anything positive can come from Daniel’s death, she hopes she can bring awareness to what happened to Daniel and maybe protect someone else from winding up in the same situation.

“We feel certain that, if it wasn’t Daniel, they would have done this to someone else,” Caroline says.

Caroline says anyone planning to meet with someone they met online should share their location and plan with family and friends.

“The problem with these dating apps or things, or even Facebook, sometimes you aren’t really sure if the person you’re talking to is who they say they are,” Caroline says.

As for Daniel’s legacy, Creel says it lives on.

“We can sort of write it as we go along,” Creel says. “When we hear nature outside, is that Daniel? When we hear a bird or we see the sunshine. Just to think that he’s there with us. So I want to leave part of his legacy open because he did not have time to finish his life.”