HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Police believe the murder of Sunhouse clerk Trisha Stull has become a heavy burden that is "all consuming" for her killers, according to a preliminary behavioral profile of the suspects constructed by SLED at the request of Horry County Police.
Behavioral scientists with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division believe that Stull's killing was a spontaneous act committed by three or more offenders, as a result of the initial crime, the armed robbery of the Conway convenience store on Saturday, January 24.
The preliminary evaluation contends that as with most crimes committed by two or more people, there will be a leader, who came up with the crime, and a follower, who may have been reluctantly pulled into the act.
The leader will intimidate the follower (physically and verbally) into not coming forward," the report states. "At some point, the leader may consider that the follower is a 'weak link' and feel that they need to bring the follower 'back in line.' This may include further intimidation or the leader may go so far as to commit a violent act against the follower for self-preservation reasons."
The offenders will show an interest in rumors and gossip surrounding the case, and they may ask friends and family noncommittal questions about the crime, why it happened, and whom they suspect may have done it, according to the evaluation.
It is also common for the offenders to display behavioral changes after the murder, or after the crimes are made public, SLED scientists state. "These changes may include anxiety, differences in food consumption, drug and alcohol use and changes in sleeping habits and patterns."
"This murder has also become a 'heavy burden' that is becoming all consuming for the killers," the report continues. "This burden may cause erratic outbursts in their behavior and they continue to pose a danger, not only to other persons, but also to friends and family members close to them; they may strike out unpredictably against those around them."
The report states that while it may be difficult to come forward with information, a friend or family member of the offenders may be the only person who can prevent someone else from being injured or killed.
"It is also very likely that others saw something significant during the time of the Murder/Armed Robbery; and at the time, they might not have recognized it as being relevant to the case. These individuals, and others, need to contact investigators. If an individual has any information that is related to this crime, they may provide the information without giving their name," the evaluation concludes.
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call the police Tip Line at 843-915-8477 (915-TIPS).