An 87-year-old Columbia preacher badly beaten by a home invader six weeks ago still has not regained consciousness and remains in intensive care at Palmetto Health Richland.
No arrests have been made in the brutal beating of the Rev. Tryon Eichelberger. City police say they have tracked down numerous leads and are seeking citizen help.
“Even the most insignificant information to somebody else, it may be that tidbit that puts us over the top or sends us in the right direction,” police Capt. Thomas Dodson said Monday.
Police efforts to date include canvassing the neighborhood around Eichelberger’s home at 119 Isaac St., interviewing family, releasing a sketch of the suspect and running that sketch through facial-recognition software, said Dodson, who oversees investigations.
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Late on the evening of May 3, an intruder broke down the front door of Eichelberger’s home and smashed his head and shoulders with a metal pipe.
It was unclear what the motive might have been; no items were believed missing.
Although his father sometimes opens his eyes, Evans Eichelberger said Monday there is no apparent communication between him and others.
“He’s still not talking, and he’s still not following commands,” said Evans Eichelberger, one of the pastor’s seven living sons.
The pastor — known for his charitable giving, vigor, and large vegetable garden whose bounty he liked to share — had retired from a longtime post at Cedar Creek AME Church. He was continuing a community ministry called Trinity House of Help and Mercy.
The pastor, a widower, had lived in his home for some 50 years.
Hopefully, said Dodson, Eichelberger will recover consciousness at some point and be able to give police some information that could lead to an arrest.
Dodson said his investigators are sharing information with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. “Hopefully, that will give us a new direction to go into.”
People with information can call Crimestoppers at (888) CRIME-SC. Anonymous tips are eligible for rewards, too.