The cause of Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams' death remains a mystery.
The sheriff, who was featured in the national media after Shaquan Duley was arrested for allegedly killing her children, had been sick and hospitalized for several weeks. He died Tuesday night, but the sheriff's department declined to release what kind of illness he had.
"The family has requested that it not be released," said Keisa Gunby Peterson, a sheriff's department spokesman.
The sheriff's department issued a statement on Tuesday night announcing his death.
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"The men and women of the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office are deeply saddened by the loss of our Sheriff Larry Williams," the statement said. "His passing leaves a void in the state's law enforcement community that was filled by a man with a giant heart for his county and the state."
The Orangeburg Times and Democrat reported that the sheriff had been hospitalized at an undisclosed location since Aug. 30, and it was believed that he first was admitted to Orangeburg Regional Medical Center. It had not been reported that Williams was at Palmetto Health Richland unitl news of his death was released Tuesday, the newspaper said.
Few reports had been released on Williams' condition and the latest update came Sept. 15 when Peterson told the newspaper that the sheriff "continues to improve daily."
Funeral arrangements had not been finalized and will be released by the family, Peterson said.
Williams was elected sheriff in 2000. He was recognized as South Carolina Sheriff of the Year in 2003.
Chief Deputy Barbara Walters will manage the department until a special election is held, Peterson said.