Investigation reveals former detective botched dozens of cases, allowing suspects to go free

Investigation reveals former detective botched dozens of cases, allowing suspects to go free

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - We rely on police to protect us, and trust that they'll do their job. So when we come to them for help, answers, and justice, we don't question that it will get done. According to an internal investigation by the Horry County Police Department, one former Horry County Detective who was assigned cases of rape, child abuse and assault  never investigated, or prematurely closed cases, leaving some victims in danger.

A look into some of former Horry County Detective Williams' Cases

An 8-month-old baby had a broken bone that two doctors say was likely caused by his own parent, according to these records.  According to this internal investigation, former Horry County Detective Daryl Williams accepts the mother's theory that the infant's leg was broken somehow while the baby slept. Instead of arresting the mother, Williams's notes show he simply advised her to get a bigger crib.

Another case: Two girls, ages 3 and 7, report being abused and raped by their own father; forced to watch porn, and witness domestic violence in their own home. The children recount this type of abuse, not once, but twice. Stating things like, "Daddy told us if we tell somebody he will, um, throw all our toys away," according to an interview with the victim, documented in this investigation.

Both of these cases were closed by the detective with no arrests made.

Yet another case: One woman, raped nearly three years ago, said she identified the man who assaulted her, and even told police where to find him, but now, years later, she's still waiting for an arrest, and still holding onto feelings from that very night.

"Pain, angry, hurt, a lot of emotions," the victim said. "Having to relive it, a lot, in my mind, every day, in the back of my head."

The Internal Investigation

An internal investigation into the cases handled by Former Horry County Detective Daryl Williams came to these conclusions:

Of all his cases over a three-year span, between January 2010 and February 2013, 41 percent were not addressed at all, or addressed inappropriately, according to the internal investigation. That totals 88 cases involving 123 victims.

The internal investigator brought three main issues forward:

One: Detective Williams did not investigate 50 cases assigned to him at all, according to the report, like when a bomb threat was made at St. James High School. According to the investigation, Williams never followed up, even though e-mails show he received his assignment and the computer system shows he was on the way to the scene.

Two: 25 cases had improprieties, meaning, there was a problem with the file he turned in. According to the investigator, they may have had false, misleading or contradictory facts in the case, or there was no report of investigation, at all. For example, a college virgin reports that she was raped, and Williams files it as consensual sex, without ever speaking to the victim, according to the internal investigation.

The third issue: Detective Williams closed cases without turning in a case file, according to the report.

WMBF News Reporter Jenna DeAngelis spoke to Solicitor Jimmy Richardson about the importance of this paperwork.

"We rely solely on what the police put together in their packet and send to us," Richardson said.

Understanding police officers are busy, the solicitor's office writes to remind officers to submit

case files. Documents show, Detective Williams was sent these reminders, but still neglected to turn in files, meaning cases had to be dropped.

"If we dismiss the charges for lack of discovery, person, if they're in jail, or if they're under a bond, all of that's over, it's as if it didn't happen," said Richardson.

In other words, even though people may have been charged with a crime, if an officer doesn't turn in the file, the suspect can't be prosecuted. That means, criminals can still be out on the street.

"If the police at a later time go out and put together a case file, and make another arrest, they can always do that," Richardson said.

In Williams's case, the internal investigation shows three suspects in cases the detective failed to document showed up in reports again as suspects for similar crimes. One of those cases involves child abuse.

On top of that, the internal investigation notes, Williams was serving DSS paperwork, with his patrol car, which the investigator points out as two more violations of Horry County Police Department Policy and Procedure. Those violations are: Extra Duty and Secondary Employment and Take-Home Vehicles. The investigation also notes employees cannot use the confidential files in the "Department of Motor Vehicles database" for financial gain or examination of private records.

Victim opens up

A victim says, she thinks about this every day. What if the man who raped her, has violently attacked someone else?

"I pray he hasn't done this to anybody else, I pray he hasn't," the victim said. "If he's done this to anybody else, I pray they come out and they speak up."

She said working with Detective Williams was like playing cat and mouse, and he didn't return her calls. Now that he may have a chance to hear her voice, she wants it to be loud and clear.

"Why?" she said. "Why didn't he ever do anything, why did he just let it go? This is serious, this is not a joke."

Victim after victim, crime after crime: rape, assault, armed robbery and child abuse. Suspects going free, according to these reports. So why wasn't anything done?

Horry County Police Department Action

These reports show, the Horry County Police Department wasn't in the dark. WMBF News spoke to Chief Saundra Rhodes about this case a few months back.

"This was an employee who had been with us probably 8 years when the violations started," said Rhodes. "I don't think he started having any problems until 2013."

Reports show, Detective Williams started getting written reprimands dating back to 2009. He received at least three, up until 2013. It wasn't until then, records show, he was suspended, for two days. This suspension paperwork was clearly signed by Chief Saundra Rhodes.

The internal investigation into Detective Williams's caseload came out in January 2014; six months later, he was demoted.

What victims want to know is, why wasn't he fired?

Chief Rhodes says after the demotion, Williams resigned, but she admits to a delay in how Williams's case was handled, and says the situation has led to changes in the department.

"It should not have taken that long for us to recognize that there was an issue," Chief Rhodes said. "We made those changes and supervisors have case review with detectives on a much [more] regular basis now to see where they are on each and every case they're investigating."

Re-opening the former detective's cases

The police department has already re-opened many of Detective Williams's cases. Chief Rhodes said some declined cooperation, due to the time that has passed, but two arrests were made out of the cases, so far.

One of those, a recently re-opened case: a five year old was allegedly fondled by a young man. The suspect, confesses twice on tape, but the Detective Williams did not make an arrest. With a new detective investigating the crime, an arrest has been made.  The police department plans to keep the momentum going.

"We really want to make sure that we do everything we can to bring justice for our victims," Chief Rhodes said. "Honestly if it had been five years, I still would have made sure that case had been investigated."

Which is why this victim hopes others still speak up.

"You know, that was the thing on me, is being ashamed and being afraid, you know, we need to be strong and we need to do what's right for us," said the victim. Also explaining, today, a new detective is making a difference.

"Now that I have him on my case, 100 percent, I know that he's there for me and I know he'll do anything he can.

"I think that our relationship with our community allows them to know that they can trust us and we will take any action necessary when we find that we have an employee that's not providing the services to them that they should," Chief Rhodes said.

Former Horry County Detective Daryl Williams recently filed a lawsuit against the department because he says he wasn't promoted for racial and religious reasons.

His lawyer, Bonnie Travaglio-Hunt said, while he does not wish to make a statement on camera; he looks forward to proving all the allegations contained in his lawsuit against the police department.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.