Suspect in triple homicide in Horry, Richland counties is town councilman’s son, authorities confirm
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – An Atlantic Beach town councilman and his wife were shot and killed by their own son, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
The department confirmed that 25-year-old Matthew Dewitt is the son of Jim and Gloria Dewitt. The two were found dead on Sunday night at home along Greensprings Drive near Columbia.
An incident report obtained by WMBF News shows that deputies were called to the home for a welfare check. The caller told deputies that she hadn’t spoken to a person inside the home all day and “that was unlikely.” When deputies went inside the home they found two people unresponsive, according to the report.
Jim Dewitt, 52, had been on the Atlantic Beach Town Council for about a year. Atlantic Beach Police Chief Quentin Robinson explained that the Dewitts owned homes in both Richland County and Atlantic Beach.
Mayor Jake Evans issued a statement on the deaths:
“The Town of Atlantic Beach, South Carolina community is shocked and deeply sadden (sic) by the deaths of Councilman Jim Dewitt and his family. The Town is fully cooperating with the investigations into this matter by the Horry and Richland County Sheriff’s Departments. We offer our condolences and deepest sympathy to the family.”
Other Atlantic Beach residents said whether it was installing alarms for them or being the voice of change, Jim Dewitt was valuable to the community.
Atlantic Beach Town Councilwoman Jacqueline Gore, who affectionately called him “Little Jim,” said that he was an asset to the town council and that he was going to be instrumental to new developments that were coming to the town.
Gore said that she will truly miss her fellow councilmember and friend.
“Atlantic Beach has lost one of its leaders. The town is really in a different state today. I can’t really speak for everybody else but I’m going to be really lost without him,” Gore said. “He actually sat beside me on the council board and he had very good ideas that we were all planning on getting into this new development.”
Meanwhile, investigators said the Dewitts’ shooting deaths are connected to another homicide near Conway.
On Sunday afternoon, Horry County police were called to a home in the 4000 block of Highway 319, where they found 52-year-old Natasha Stevens’ body. The coroner’s office revealed that Stevens was also shot and killed.
The investigation led police to Atlantic Beach where they took Matthew Dewitt into custody at the Dewitt Apartments.
Police said Matthew Dewitt is also related to Stevens, but it’s not clear how the two are related.
The motive in the case still has not been released.
Dewitt is being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department explained that Matthew Dewitt will face charges in Horry County first and then will face charges in Richland County.
Public index records show that Matthew Dewitt has been charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in connection to the Horry County case.
He is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
WMBF News will continue to bring you updates on this developing story.
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