Horry County police make arrest in serial sexual assault cold cases dating back over 20 years

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 12:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The Horry County Police Department announced the arrest of a man suspected of several sexual assaults that date back over 20 years.

Randy Barnhill, 56, of Conway faces 13 charges, which include multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and exposure of private parts in a lewd and lascivious manner.

The Horry County Police Department said these new developments come after scientific evidence and advances in technology helped provide them a new lead in a 2006 sexual assault investigation.

“We’ve had descriptions,” said 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson. “But nothing close to make an ID.”

Back in November 2006, police documents show that a woman was taking out the trash along Oleander Drive when she was grabbed, forced back inside the building, physically restrained and sexually assaulted.

Investigators identified Barnhill as the suspect in that case in May 2022 and then arrested by Horry County police on June 9 and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and second-degree burglary.

“Once we were able to show the victims, they were able to identify him,” said Richardson.

An investigation by HCPD and the State Law Enforcement Division revealed that Barnhill was a suspect in four other sexual assault cases that happened between 2000 and 2005. In one of those incidents, investigators said in June 2005 that Barnhill broke into the victim’s home along Barberry Drive in the Conway area while she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her.

A sketch that was released in March 2005 after Horry County police had been investigating a...
A sketch that was released in March 2005 after Horry County police had been investigating a series of assaults in the community.(Source: HCPD)

“The defendant did use aggravated force while sexually battering the victim by restraining her physically and preventing her from moving about freely while verbally threatening to kill her,” an arrest warrant states.

Police said Barnhill is considered a suspect in more cold cases, and warrants are currently being drafted while he remains in custody at J. Reuben Long Detention Center. He is also a registered sex offender who has been on the registry since May 1993 when he was convicted of indecent exposure.

“I’m certainly very proud of the work and persistence by Horry County police officers in this matter,” said Richardson. “It may have appeared to the victims that this series of crimes would have remained unsolved; however, Horry County continues to use modern-day advancements in technology to work for justice for crime victims.”

Horry County police added that they are aware of other cases in neighboring counties that match the same offender description and motive. The criminal investigations division is in contact with those agencies to provide any information and guidance.

The investigation into Barnhill remains open.

Richardson added that there could be other cases involving Barnhill with other agencies, and additional charges could be expected.

Police are asking anyone with information related to a crime to contact the HCPD Criminal Investigations Division by calling the tip line at 843-915-8477 or email crimetips@horrycounty.org.

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