Investigators charge former boyfriend in connection with woman's 2005 disappearance
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Investigators have charged a woman's former boyfriend in connection with her disappearance in 2005.
North Charleston police officials say Garland Eugene Lankford has been charged with obstruction of justice in connection with Brandy Hanna's disappearance. A judge set his bond for that charge at $10,000. Bond has not been set for a child support charge.
Lankford was Hanna's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.
Hanna was last seen in 2005 after leaving work at Alex's Restaurant on Dorchester Road.
An affidavit states Lankford provided false and misleading statements regarding Hanna who was reported missing on May 23, 2005 and officially declared deceased on Aug. 26, 2013.
Police say Hanna is believed to to be the victim of a homicide.
This past summer, Investigation Discovery aired Hanna's story as an episode of the series "Disappeared."
The network sent a crew to North Charleston last November to film the episode, North Charleston Police say.
Lankford's arrest stems from an interview conducted with detectives last week in which authorities say he gave conflicting information.
According to court papers released on Tuesday, Lankford initially told police that he had plans to see Hanna on the night of May 20, 2005 but had worked late and wasn't able to meet her. An affidavit states Lankford maintained that he was never present at Hanna's home and did not see her at all on May 20, 2005 due to working late.
"Detectives were able to obtain time sheets from the defendant's employer showing this statement to be false," court records state.
Investigators say the time sheets show that Lankford did not work late and got off at 4 p.m. In addition, phone records showed Lankford talking to Hanna that evening from 5:08 p.m. to 5:36 p.m.
"Further, during the statement provided by the defendant on December 12, 2016, the defendant altered his original statement and informed detectives that he may have gone to Hanna's apartment and spent time her her on May 20, 2005," the affidavit states.
Investigators say Lankford also denied contacting officers or investigators to give information about the case and said the only person he ever contacted was Hanna's mother. According to authorities, Lankford's phone records show he called North Charleston City Hall in the six days following Hanna's disappearance.
Court records state that within one of the calls, the duty officer noted that a male caller called in and provided information that a female tenant observed Hanna getting into a truck with her"ex-boyfriend" on either May 20, 2005 or May 21, 2005 which caused police to focus their attention on Hanna's ex-boyfriend.
Investigators say the call back number provided by the caller belonged to Lankford's half sister.
According to investigators, in Lankford's original statement, he said Hanna's ex-boyfriend contacted him the morning following the disappearance.
However, court records state Lankford initiated the contact between him and the ex-boyfriend the morning following Hanna's disappearance. Authorities say Lankford contacted Hanna's ex-boyfriend four times through text messages.
Hanna's mother, Donna Parent, described the lack of clues "an agonizing hell" in a 2011 interview.
"You learn to take each day one step at a time," Parent said at the time. "Or else I would have fallen apart. I have to keep going, be strong because I have to keep looking for her."
Parent told investigators she last saw her daughter at approximately 2:30 p.m. the day Hanna disappeared.
Investigators say a co-worker dropped her off at her apartment on Florida Avenue after her shift at the restaurant. According to Parent, Hanna spoke to her by phone from her apartment at approximately 7:30 p.m. that evening.
Investigators determined she checked her voicemail at 8:49 p.m. and texted a boyfriend at approximately 10:19 p.m.
Police say that was the last trace of phone activity.
According to investigators, a witness saw Hanna get into a red pickup truck with a white stripe later that night, and she was never seen again.
Authorities say all her belongings, money, and a cell phone were all left behind.
Both her boyfriend and an ex-boyfriend made accusations against each other, an incident report states, but none led to any information about what really happened at that time.
"I just want answers," Parent said in 2011. "More than anything to know where she is, to know what happened."
Her mother has continued to try to keep her daughter's disappearance from slipping out of the public's memory, including throwing a birthday party for her at the restaurant and hiring a psychic expert from West Virginia for help.
North Charleston investigators re-opened Hanna's case in 2011. In May, police found what Hanna's family hoped might be a clue that would finally solve the mystery: a sneaker in the Old Navy Yard in North Charleston, just blocks away from Hanna's apartment.
The shoe was tested for Hanna's DNA, but the results were inconclusive.
State archaeologists spent three days digging for clues in the area, but that investigation produced no new leads.
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