Authorities have released the identity of a severely injured woman discovered by two repo men along a West Columbia road Wednesday morning.
The Lexington County Coroner's Office has identified the woman as 43-year-old Paula D. Justice of West Columbia. She did not have a permanent address, according to the coroner.
Two men who were working to repossess a vehicle on Lumberjack Drive near the intersection with Earline Drive saw Justice lying in the roadway severely injured and reported the incident to authorities, Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said.
Lexington County Emergency Medical Services personnel found Justice was alive and transported her by ambulance to Lexington Medical Center. She was later pronounced dead.
Detectives are pursuing leads concerning the identity of the person or persons who fatally shot Justice in the chest. The motive for the shooting and the circumstances of the shooting remain under investigation.
An autopsy by the Lexington County Coroner's Office Thursday afternoon determined she died from a single gunshot wound to her upper torso when the bullet penetrated a vital organ.
"You know it's serious when there are two crime scene (units) and a million cops," said Piper Henderson, who was near the scene where the wounded woman was found Wednesday night.
"I was talking to the repo guy right here and he said 'We rode down this road right here because we were on a repo call,'" said Henderson. "'Rode down the road, thought it was a jacket, come to find out that it was the body of the lady.'"
"We're trying to locate a suspect or a person of interest," said Sheriff James Metts, who believes it was a targeted killing but couldn't say much more.
"Maybe a bad situation gone wrong, with drugs or prostitution," said Metts. "We're not sure at this point in time. We're running victimology and trying to find that person of interest who will hopefully shed light on why this occurred."
"Whoever did this, come on," said Henderson. "You had no right. She's a victim, I don't care what she did to you, you had no right. Turn yourself in, man."
Metts asked anyone with information about the circumstances surrounding the shooting to call the Lexington County Sheriff's Department at (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
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