Deputies name suspect in Hollywood woman's disappearance

Deputies name suspect in Hollywood woman's disappearance
(L-to-R) Julia Ann Mudgett, Pollyann Mitchell
(L-to-R) Julia Ann Mudgett, Pollyann Mitchell


The Charleston County Sheriff's Office named a suspect in the disappearance of a missing Hollywood woman.

Deputies have identified Jerry Lee Manigault, 53, as a suspect in the disappearance of Julia Ann Mudgett, 77, according to sheriff's spokesman Maj. Eric Watson. Manigault is being held at the Al Cannon Detention Center on unrelated charges, Watson said.

Manigault was arrested in Beaufort County by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Marshall Fugitive Task Force on Monday on an outstanding arrest warrant for failing to re-register as a sex offender, according to Watson.

Authorities say Manigault's rap sheet dates back to 1991. The rap sheet shows:
  • 1992: Charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and armed robbery with a deadly weapon were all dismissed in Beaufort County. 
  • 1996: Convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He was sentenced to 10 years, which was suspended to five years of probation in Charleston County.
  • 2001: Convicted on a charge of armed robbery with a deadly weapon, sentenced to 12 years in prison from Beaufort County, served 7 years.
  • 2010: Charges of strong armed robbery, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, kidnapping and first degree burglary were all dismissed in Charleston County. 
  • 2012: Convicted on third degree burglary charge, first offense. Sentenced to three years in prison from Charleston County. He started his prison sentence on January 16, 2013, but was released on April 2, 2014.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says the charges in the 2010 case were dismissed because DNA from semen identified from the evidence of a rape excluded Manigault. 

Bluffton Police announced Wednesday they believe the Mudgett disappearance the homicide of a Bluffton woman are related.

According to a Bluffton Police spokesman, the car belonging to 77-year-old Julia Mudgett was spotted in Bluffton over the weekend. The car was found Monday afternoon at a Tutens Landing Road boat landing in Ridgeland. 

Police in Bluffton are investigating the death of 70-year-old Polly Ann Mitchell, who was found in her home on Monday afternoon, as a homicide. The coroner's office and Bluffton Police said an autopsy had been completed but had not released the cause of death or when she was killed, the Associated Press reported.

Capt. Joseph Manning said no suspects have been identified in the Mitchell case, but that there was a struggle in the home.

Mudgett was last seen on Sunday, May 4. She was reported missing on Tuesday, May 6, after she didn't attend a Bible study at her church. 

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office confirmed Mudgett's missing burgundy 2002 Hyundai Elantra was found around 4:30 p.m. Monday at the boat landing, which is near the Coosawhatchie River. A dive team searched the water and marshes in the area for any trace of Mudgett but found no new clues on her whereabouts, deputies say. Later Tuesday afternoon, officials combed the three-mile stretch of Big Estate Road in Yemassee.

Authorities have said Mudgett's disappearance is still being handled as a missing person investigation, but officials have said they believe that foul play is involved. The vehicle was towed back to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office where it will be processed as part of this investigation.

Officials continue to work with authorities in Bluffton and in Beaufort and Jasper Counties in a continued effort to locate Mudgett.

Manning said the Bluffton Police Department and Charleston County Sheriff's Office are comparing notes to determine how the cases may be connected.

Copyright 2014 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.