Florence man arrested in connection to Converse Dr. fatality - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather


Florence man arrested in connection to Converse Dr. fatality

Latson Ray Matthews (Source: Florence Police Department) Latson Ray Matthews (Source: Florence Police Department)
Person of interest involved in Converse Dr. fatality (Florence Police Dept.) Person of interest involved in Converse Dr. fatality (Florence Police Dept.)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – A Florence man was arrested Friday in connection to the hit-and-run that killed a 74-year-old woman on Converse Drive last month.

Latson Ray Matthews, age 45, is charged with murder, burglary and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to a news release from the Florence Police Department.

74-year-old Martha Day Grainger confronted Matthews, who was stealing a propane tank from her garage, with a weapon that he took from her before striking her with his green van, police confirmed.

The woman killed from the hit-and-run that occurred on the 1800 block of Converse Drive in Florence on Tuesday has been identified by the coroner as Martha Day Grainger, of Converse Drive in Florence. Grainger died in an area hospital Tuesday night and an autopsy will be performed at MUSC.

Only July 31, Lt. Mike Brandt released this sketch of a person of interest involved in the Converse Drive fatality. He is a white male with blue eyes and driving a green minivan. 

Lt. Brandt says officers with the Florence Police Department responded to a disturbance off Converse Drive after 5 p.m. and found a woman injured in the roadway. Coroner Keith von Lutcken confirmed that the woman died at a local hospital Tuesday night, several hours after being struck. An autopsy will be performed at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Witnesses told the officers that the woman was run over by a green van.

An investigation has revealed that Grainger arrived at her home on Converse Drive and confronted a subject on her property who was committing a larceny, according to Lt. Brandt. She was then struck by the fleeing suspect’s green van.

People in the neighborhood said they were upset to hear what had happened to the woman, who they said lived on Converse Drive for more than 40 years.

"She was very sweet and very independent," said Natisha Byron, who lives nearby. "I always admired her and how independent she was in terms of doing everything in the yard and she worked on a farm too. She just did everything she could for herself. That's just who she was."

Byron said the woman was involved in the neighborhood watch program and always reminded people about the meetings.

"She was just into things like that, taking care of the neighborhood," she said.

She said her heart goes out to the woman's family. People in the neighborhood said they want to know who is responsible for taking their neighbor away from them.

"Somebody's life is not worth whatever they were doing," Byron said. "They should really, really turn themselves in or call or just say something because the family would want to have some kind of peace."

The incident is under investigation by the Florence Police Department and Florence County Coroner's Office. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Florence Police Department immediately at (843)-665-3191.

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