Women's shelter burglarized months after vandalism

These messages were painted on the mirrors in the building by alleged vandals in March 2013.
These messages were painted on the mirrors in the building by alleged vandals in March 2013.

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Police are investigating a burglary at a shelter for women that was vandalized just nine months ago.

Police officers responded to the shelter on Dec. 10 to find the cooper wire has been removed from the walls and ceilings, destroying most of the sheet rock in the process.

Glass doors had been broken, one wood door removed, and the damage to the building exceeds $10,000.

But this is not the first time the shelter has been the victim of crime. Before it officially opened, the building was vandalized in March.

"I noticed the window was broken above the sink," said shelter director Sheila Hemingway. "I walked into the living area and paint was everywhere on the floor, the doors, the walls."

That incident report from Horry County Police indicated this may not be the first time the home has fallen victim to burglars.

"The heating unit was stolen from the house," Hemingway said. "They took all the copper, the water heater, they walked in and took whatever they wanted."

The future shelter was under renovation, being rebuilt by Safe Harbour Ministry Church to provide a safe place for battered women and children. On Monday, March 18 they reported someone broke into the building and wrote messages on the walls and mirrors.

WMBF News took a tour of the home and discovered messages reading "there is no escape," "run" and "save yourself."

Some of the messages and drawings depicted "slender man," a horror story character made popular on the Internet. However, shelter organizers say an image that's meant to frighten gives them resolve.

"Slender man doesn't have a face," says Patricia Henderson. "It's like he's saying he can't be identified. It's spooky, but it also encourages us to do what we're doing, because that means there must be a victim somewhere."

The police report said officers found fingerprints and footprints, but they have not yet named a suspect or motive for the crime. The owners of the building told police they have had several problems with people breaking in since they gained ownership of the property. They were planning to open the shelter in April.

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