An Orangeburg County man has been arrested and charged with murder in the disappearance of Kimberly Parrish, a Lexington County woman who has been missing since Dec. 21.
Kenneth Franklin Cutter, of North, has been arrested and charged with Parrish’s murder, even though a body has not been recovered, according to the Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell.
Cutter was a friend of Parrish’s for at least four months, Ravenell said his department’s investigation showed. He did not say how they knew each other.
“We have recovered DNA and clothing evidence that belongs to Parrish from an abandoned house near the suspect’s residence,” Ravenell said, in a statement issued by the department Friday. “We continue to conduct an extensive search for Parrish’s remains utilizing cadaver dogs, river and air support.”
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Ravenell also stated in a press conference held Friday that evidence recovered by investigators indicates that Parrish is deceased. He did not say what that evidence is.
The 40-year-old mother of two young children was last seen at the Helping Hands Caregivers, 9444 Two Notch Road in Richland County, where she was picking up a paycheck.
Owners at the locally owned health services company said employees have been calling in all week expressing their shock at her disappearance, described earlier in the week by officials as being “out of character.”
Richland County deputies followed leads to Orangeburg, and Parrish’s Chevrolet Malibu was discovered in the town of North, where she was believed to have an acquaintance, officials said earlier in the week.
“Everyone has just been praying, ‘Lord, let it be OK. Let it not be anything negative,’” said Marcia Hughes, one of the owners.
Hughes said Parrish had started working for Helping Hands about 2½ months ago as a certified nurse assistant. She described Parrish as a very good worker who was compassionate and cared a great deal for her clients.
Staff at the small company of about 22 had just started to get to know the young mother who had already been through two training sessions and two holiday get-togethers with other employees.
As word spread Friday that authorities believed her to be deceased, thoughts quickly turned to Parrish’s family, whom Hughes said Parrish would often talk about.
“God, it is awful,” she said. “We are praying for the family and her children.”
Parrish’s husband has not spoken to the media.
Investigators are asking anyone, including hunters, farmers or others who may be outdoors in the North area, to be vigilant and contact law enforcement if they find something.
Cutter’s arraignment will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday in Orangeburg.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.