DILLON, SC (WMBF) - Three teenagers are in police custody and have been charged with murder Wednesday in connection to the death of a missing elderly Dillon woman.
According to the Dillon County Sheriff's Office, the body of Mary Alice Stutts, 75, was found around 2 p.m. Tuesday near Little Rock.
Police say Stutts was reported missing around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after someone found the side door to her home in the 900 block of West Calhoun Street Extension open. Stutts, according to investigators, was not home and her car was missing.
Officers with the Dillon Police Department say they found two people driving the car of Stutts after she was reported missing.
Stutts' neighbors say the teens stole her car, shoved her in the trunk and went for a joyride. They say at one point while they were driving, the teens turned up the radio to drown out the sound of Stutts praying and yelling in the trunk.
"I couldn't give you a good answer as to why anyone would want to do this, because there's no need for anyone to do something like this to anyone," said Capt. Cliff Arnette of the Dillon County Sheriff's Office.
One man, however, believes he knows the reason behind the crime: gang activity.
Larry German, assistant director of Dillon County Parks and Recreation, says he had a few encounters with one of the suspects - Damian Inman, 17 - a month ago. The 17-year-old was assigned to do community service after entering the Department of Juvenile Justice for truancy.
"His attitude towards communication was really disturbing to me because I couldn't get him to communicate," said German.
Thirty hours of community service and one evaluation later, German says Damian Inman's behavior sent up a red flag.
"I monitored him very closely," said German. "I think I put on his evaluation he was the type of kid that was very easy to persuade."
Lorenzo Jermaine Inman, 18, and a 15-year-old juvenile have also been detained in connection to the death of Stutts. Lorenzo and Damian Inman, investigators say, have been charged with kidnapping, burglary, armed robbery and grand larceny in addition to murder.
The Dillon County Sheriff's Office says detectives continue to actively investigate the death of Stutts. Officials, however, have not ruled out any suspicious activity - such as gang activity - as a factor in Stutts' death.
The Dillon Herald reports Stutts' funeral will be held on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Little River Baptist Church with entombment in the Evergreen Cemetery Mausoleum.