Editor's note: Arthur Macklin III was incorrectly styled Arthur Macklin Jr. in earlier versions of this story.
Update: Fifth suspect arrested
Tuesday’s arrests of four suspects should put an end to a rash of Kershaw County home invasions, including one in which a man was shot and killed, according to Sheriff Jim Matthews.
“These guys were on a roll and were not going to stop,” Matthews said. “This was one of those crime sprees you hear about, and it ends up with people getting killed.”
After black-clad robbers wearing ski masks repeatedly shot a man who couldn’t open his home safe fast enough Monday night, Matthews got help from SLED, which sent a helicopter, a dog team and more than a dozen agents to the Camden area Tuesday.
Monday morning, the same cash-seeking bandits were suspected of robbing a Camden Food Lion at gunpoint.
By Tuesday morning, up to 50 deputies, SLED agents and Camden city police joined an all-out manhunt to catch the suspects.
All four home invasions — which began late last week and ended with Monday night’s death — as well as the Food Lion armed robbery are believed to have been committed by the four suspects, Matthews said.
“We are 90 percent sure,” Matthews said.
Camden police Chief Joe Floyd said about a dozen of his officers and investigators were involved in the manhunt. He expects to file charges in the Food Lion robbery against some or all of the suspects, but police “still have some legwork to do.”
The four home invasions and the Food Lion robbery upset everyone in the Camden area, said Johnny Deal, a local bank executive known informally as the “Facebook King” because of his frequent, newsy local postings on his personal social media site.
SLED’s helicopter and the increased presence of armed officers added to the tension, Deal said.
“If this had gone on another day, I know parents would have kept their children home from school,” Deal said.
Matthews said the victims in the four home invasions were chosen somewhat at random, but there also may have been reasons why the invaders chose them.
In the first two home invasions, the victims were Hispanic, and the robbers might have thought they had cash at their mobile homes.
The third home invasion victim was a white businessman whom the robbers also might have thought had cash.
The fourth victim, Michael Hayes, 39, who was shot and killed in his Sandspur Road home, was a known drug dealer who the robbers, again, might have believed kept cash at home, Matthews said.
“We also found a pound of marijuana and some cocaine in that house,” Matthews said. “If he hadn’t been murdered, we probably would not know about his home invasion because drug dealers don’t generally report their thefts to police.”
Hayes was shot three times, Matthews said.
“I think it was done in a rage, Matthews said. “They were getting agitated because he couldn’t open the safe. When he couldn’t do it, they just popped him three times.”
The men then tried to force Hayes’ girlfriend, who was holding her 5-day-old baby, to open the safe, Matthews said. When she couldn’t do it, she told the invaders they should just take the safe with them. They did. They also took her and the baby.
The suspects later released the woman and her baby, and the woman alerted police early Tuesday morning.
The safe was recovered Tuesday. It was still unopened.
The big break in the case came Tuesday afternoon when officers took one suspect into custody and he identified the others, police said.
Matthews identified the four suspects, all from the Camden area, as Frank Terrance Singleton III, 23; Curtis Quandal Drakeford, 20; Jerome Ricky Lewis, 34; and Arthur Macklin III, 24. They are being held at the Kershaw County jail.
They will be charged with murder, burglary and other related charges. Warrants are expected to be served early today, Matthews said.
Camden Chief Floyd said he’s glad the spree is over.
“Every citizen had his anxiety level elevated over this.”
Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.