For more than 20 years, Charles and Evelyn Hill have rented a small house in the Rosewood neighborhood, just on the edge of the Rosewood Hills development.
They spend most days sitting on their front porch watching the street, smoking cigarettes and shooting the breeze with friends who come to take a seat with them for a while.
“We know the whole neighborhood,” 52-year-old Evelyn Hill said.
They’re nothing like the drug-dealing sexual predators they’re accused of being in rumor letters that have made their way through the neighborhood, said Scott Nuelken, who has lived across the street from the Hills for more than five years.
Never miss a local story.
Nuelken was appalled to open his mailbox recently and find a wildly sensational, three-page flier accusing the Hills of dealing drugs and calling for neighbors to “Speak Out Now … You Deserve a Quiet, Safe Place to live.”
“Frankly, it’s just crazy,” Nuelken said, adding that “the amount of effort that went into this thing is just mind blowing.”
“Everybody that knows Charles knows that he doesn’t have a single enemy anywhere,” he said.
The letter was stamped, mailed and delivered to Nuelken’s mailbox sometime in the last week, he said. It had no return address on the envelope.
The message of the letter has racist undertones and “reads like a call to arms” against the Hills, Nuelken said. The Hills are African American; Nuelken is white.
At least one other neighbor received the same letter in the mail, Nuelken said.
And the Hills have received at least three similarly harassing letters since August, they said.
“Why are people messing with me? I ain’t got nothing,” Charles Hill, 57, said.
Neither of the Hills has ever been charged with a drug crime in South Carolina, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. And, no, Charles is not a sex offender, as the letter also claims. He is not listed on the state’s sex offender registry.
Columbia police have never responded to any disturbances or crimes at the Hills’ house, according to police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons.
When Nuelken wrote a post about the letter on the Rosewood neighborhood Facebook page earlier this week, other neighbors responded with dozens of comments expressing disgust at the letters and rumors.
Nuelken defended the Hills. They’ve babysat his daughter, come to his home and welcomed others into theirs and given him a helping hand whenever needed, he said.
Columbia police have been notified of the letters and have taken an information report. But based on the information they’ve collected so far, an actual crime has not been committed.
Police have taken the letters as evidence and notified the postal inspector of the concern.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.