Details that emerged Thursday in the death of Nikki McPhatter tell a tale of an online dating nightmare.
McPhatter, of Charlotte, met Theodore Manning at an online dating site, but their three-month relationship ended tragically in early May when McPhatter came to Columbia to break it off, investigators say.
The two argued about it, and Manning fired a pistol and killed McPhatter at his Bluff Road home, Richland County sheriff’s investigators and an arrest affidavit said. Investigators told a judge Thursday that Manning had confessed to the killing.
A woman helped him clean up the crime scene and dispose of the body, another arrest affidavit says.
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Kendra D. Goodman, 27, was charged Thursday with accessory after the fact to murder, sheriff’s Capt. Stan Smith said in Richland County court. Bond was set at $15,000.
Goodman assisted in “the disposal and burning of the victim’s car and dead body,” the affidavit says.
She has confessed to helping him after the killing, the affidavit says. It’s unclear what her relationship with Manning is.. More details could emerge today: The Richland County Sheriff’s Department plans to hold a press conference at 11 a.m.
McPhatter told her friends little about “Teddy,” other than that he worked at a “nuclear power site” and lived in a rural area.
Skeletal remains believed to be McPhatter’s were found in the trunk of McPhatter’s burned black Honda Accord off Peach Road in Fairfield County on Friday.
Investigators found a receipt May 22 for the purchase of bleach on May 7 and, when they confronted Manning about it, he told them he shared a food stamps card with Goodman, Smith said Thursday.
When investigators found Goodman, they saw what they believe is the same gold Chevrolet Lumina captured in a video of people trying to use McPhatter’s ATM card May 6 — the day McPhatter died — at a Wachovia branch off Farrow Road.
Manning brought a gas can when the two went to dispose of the body, investigators say.
That Goodman didn’t come forward when she learned of the murder “is unconscionable to say the least,” said McPhatter’s friend, Fran Eddings, who worked with her at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
The two were customer service agents for US Airways.
Eddings wants Manning and Goodman punished if they are guilty.
“I wanna walk to the death chamber with both,” she said.
Eddings made the comments after Manning waived his appearance and right to a bond setting Thursday at Richland County Court.
He has been arrested before.
In August 2008, Manning was charged with criminal domestic violence first-degree. Columbia police say that 10 months earlier, he grabbed a 22-year-old woman around the neck and started choking her. The disposition of that case couldn’t be determined Thursday.
The victim told police she had been living with Manning for three months.
Eight of McPhatter’s family members and five of her friends and co-workers attended Thursday’s hearing.
McPhatter’s sister, Latoya McPhatter of Apex, N.C., told the judge she and her family are struggling to deal with the death.
“My baby sister is now gone from me, by Mr. Manning ... ” she said. “I cannot express the hurt, the pain, the sorrowness that I feel right now because Mr. Manning took my baby sister from me.”
Anita Lewis of Charlotte, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who worked at the airport with McPhatter, said McPhatter was a peaceful person.
“She was just always bubbly and had a great outlook on life,” Lewis said. “It’s such a tragedy. She was such a lovely young lady.”
Lucille Frierson of Charlotte, another friend, is hoping authorities identify the body soon.
“We just want answers at this point. Why?”
Reach Higgins at (803) 771-8570.