Electrocuted body hung on State Hospital grounds "for several days," coroner says

jmonk@thestate.comMarch 17, 2013 

— The body of an electrocuted man found hanging in a harness on the old State Hospital grounds had been there “for several days,” Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Monday.

Watts identified the man as Anthony Williams, 39, of T. S. Martin Drive, Columbia, and said he was found around 10 a.m. Sunday on the historic Bull Street campus by a North Carolina tourist taking photographs on the grounds.

“He died immediately,” Watts said, adding that the wire Williams had touched contained thousands of volts of electricity.

Williams’ body was found dangling under several electrical transformers which contained copper, and Williams had with him various tools he could have used to strip copper from wires, Watts said. The tools included pliers, vice grips and flashlights.

“He wasn’t up there collecting for the Red Cross,” said Watts, explaining that the circumstantial evidence indicated Williams was trying to steal copper to sell.

Williams was found hanging beside the Babcock building, one of the oldest and best-known structures on the Bull Street campus. More than 100 years old, the sprawling red brick Babcock has four stories, a tall dome on top and white pillars at the front entrance.

The old mental hospital campus, now largely deserted, has more than 40 buildings on it, most vacant. The campus has been a target for vandals and thieves for some years.

SLED is investigating but refused to release any information Monday about the incident.

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