Victim identified, man arrested after body found following fire at Murrells Inlet bait shop

Victim identified, man arrested after body found following fire at Murrells Inlet bait shop
A Facebook video reportedly shows the moment law enforcement apprehended the suspect while on the water. (Source: Dan Morgan)
A Facebook video reportedly shows the moment law enforcement apprehended the suspect while on the water. (Source: Dan Morgan)
A memorial began to spring up at a Murrells Inlet bait shop following a fire and the discovery of a woman's body in a boat. (Source: Meredith Helline)
A memorial began to spring up at a Murrells Inlet bait shop following a fire and the discovery of a woman's body in a boat. (Source: Meredith Helline)
Law enforcement agents searched for a boat Friday following a fire at a Murrells Inlet bait shop. (Source: Bradley Parker)
Law enforcement agents searched for a boat Friday following a fire at a Murrells Inlet bait shop. (Source: Bradley Parker)

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) – Law enforcement have released the name of the victim and the suspect at the center of a death investigation Friday in Murrells Inlet that began after the body of a woman was found onboard a boat shortly after a fire at a bait shop on the marshwalk.

According to information from the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, the woman has been positively identified as 36-year-old Jessica Lynn Hill, of Murrells Inlet.

As a result of the investigation, Eric Justin Perry, 35, of Murrells Inlet, has been charged with one count of murder and one count of second-degree arson.

According to a press release from the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a fire at Perry's Bait and Tackle, located at 3965 U.S. 17 Business, in Murrells Inlet at 10 a.m. Friday.

Witnesses told police they saw a man leaving the area in a small boat shortly after the fire, the release stated. The GCSO's marine patrol unit, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard began a search.

At 1 p.m., search teams reportedly found the boat and the man in question, the release stated. That man was said to be Perry.

Additionally, the woman's body was found onboard.

A boater named Dan Morgan took to Facebook Live on Friday and showed footage of law enforcement taking the suspect into custody while on the water.

Morgan said he is a certified rescue diver and medic first aid, and normally assists DNR and Department of Health and Environmental Control agents with apprehending wildlife and natural resource violators.

He said he is extremely familiar with the inlet, and that the suspect was located in the area of Huntington Beach State Park, on the backside of Drunken Jack Island.

An active investigation by the GCSO continues to determine the woman's cause of death. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday morning at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The Facebook page for Perry's Bait and Tackle now has a call for prayers out for Jessica, and asks that people keep her three children in their thoughts and prayers as well.

The post states, "we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your business and the love expressed over the years."

Information on the South Carolina Secretary of State's online business entities database lists Jessica Hill as the registered agent for Perry's Bait and Tackle LLC.

Anyone with information is asked to call the GCSO at (843) 546-5102.

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