Two teenage girls who claimed they were abducted and held for ransom over the weekend face felony charges for committing what authorities said was a hoax.
The two likely will be charged with blackmail and conspiracy, said SLED Capt. Roger Heaton, who helped lead his agency's efforts to find the pair.
The girls are expected to go before a family court judge as soon as today.
SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd said Monday the teens were in the custody of the State Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia.
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The 15-year-old from Clarendon County and the 16-year-old from Williamsburg County were reported missing after a Saturday-night football game at S.C. State University in Orangeburg.
Heaton said sometime Sunday their parents received a text cell phone message that said, in effect, "We have the two girls. Give us what we want, which is $10,000. You can have them both alive at Paxville at 3:30 p.m."
Paxville is a rural community in Clarendon County.
Police wouldn't comment publicly on the girls' motives in demanding the money, but indicated the teens might have been trying to have law enforcement concentrate on the Paxville area, leaving them free to go elsewhere.
Although authorities suspected the girls' disappearance could be a hoax, they had to treat the matter seriously, Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett said Monday.
"We in law enforcement can't look at it from that standpoint. We have to pull out all the stops," Garrett said.
Officers from the State Law Enforcement Division, the Clarendon County Sheriff's Department, the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department, the Manning police department and the S.C. State University police department were deployed.
About 5 p.m. Sunday, Orangeburg County deputies were called to a church to check on two teenage girls who had just showed up at the church asking for money.
The deputies took the pair back to Orangeburg for questioning. One of them had the cell phone used to send the message asking for $10,000, Heaton said.
Garrett, who said he deployed eight officers from his 52-deputy department to secure roads around Paxville, said the teens should be charged.
"Something needs to happen to them when law enforcement spends this kind of time and money on them," he said.
"They thought it was fun and games, but of course, now they don't think that any more."