Husband arrested and charged in Florence double homicide

Source: WMBF News reporter Will Whitson
Source: WMBF News reporter Will Whitson
Source: WMBF News reporter Will Whitson
Source: WMBF News reporter Will Whitson
Hiralkumar Gopaldas (Source: FCSO)
Hiralkumar Gopaldas (Source: FCSO)

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Florence County deputies have made an arrest Tuesday in a double homicide after two bodies were discovered during a welfare visit Saturday night in Florence.

According to Captain Brett Camp with the Florence County Sheriff's Office, out-of-state relatives called law enforcement officials after failed attempts to get in touch with those at the home of 3119 Nicklaus Court at the Country Club of South Carolina.

When deputies entered the home around 10:30 p.m., the bodies of two women were found in what appeared to have been a struggle.

Florence Deputies also found a child in the residence unharmed. That child was checked out at the hospital and placed in protective custody.

The bodies were sent to MUSC for autopsies.

Monday morning, Matthews identified the victims as Punam H. Gopaldas, 31, and her mother, Vinaben Patel, 56.

Matthews added autopsies have been completed, and Tuesday night authorities revealed they believe the two women died of multiple stab wounds, but the coroner has not confirmed the official cause of death.

"We expect a fresh, a fair amount of information from the autopsies to assist us in moving forward. But our investigators are working pretty much around the clock on this case," said Captain Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office. "Unfortunately what this shows us, is there's no area that immune from violence of this type. This area is not typically known for problems or violence."

Gopaldas was a nurse at McLeod Regional Medical Center, where she worked for more than five years. The Hospital Administrator, Marie Segars, has released the following statement about the death of Gopaldas:

"It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the loss of Punam Gopaldas, a

nurse who served McLeod patients for more than five years. She was

committed to her vocation and was a skilled health care practitioner who

was respected among her colleagues and supervisors. We pray for the comfort

of her family, friends and all her peers during this very difficult time."

Finally, Tuesday night, investigators with the Florence County Sheriff's Office arrested 33-year-old Hiralkumar Gopaldas for the murders of the two women. Gopaldas is the husband of the deceased Punam H. Gopaldas, and son-in-law of the second victim, Vinaben Patel.

"I want to give credit to our deputies and investigators who have worked around the clock to solve these horrible crimes," Sheriff  Kenney Boone stated.  "Hopefully this neighborhood can rest a little easier in light of the arrest."

Gopaldas is being charged with two counts of murder and will likely appear before a Florence County Magistrate on Wednesday for an initial appearance. A circuit court judge will hear any issues related to bond pending trial.

No other details are known at this time as to why Gopaldas allegedly committed these crimes.

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