Crime & Courts

Ex-cop found guilty of kidnapping wife, son

A former police officer has been convicted of kidnapping and holding his estranged wife and infant son hostage in Georgia.

U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins says 25-year-old David Dietz guilty Tuesday of several federal charges, including kidnapping and carjacking.

Tuesday's verdict came after a six-day trial in Columbia.

Authorities say Dietz dressed as a police officer and ambushed his estranged wife and infant son as they returned from church on Jan. 3. He then took them to a motel in Madison, Ga.

Dietz and a teenager accused of helping him surrendered two days later after a 13-hour standoff at the motel. His estranged wife and son were released unharmed.

Dietz faces possible life imprisonment when he is sentenced in December.

Bodies of mother, daughter found in lake

CROSS HILL - Authorities are investigating what happened to a mother and daughter whose bodies have been found in their car in the middle of a lake.

The pair were found at 2 a.m. Tuesday in a car about 80 feet from the shore of Lake Greenwood. The car was in about 12 feet of water.

Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols said 36-year-old Jennifer Diana Jones and her 14-year-old daughter, Alicia Michelle Jenkins, were from Greenwood.

The mother and teen were reported missing Sunday after visiting a friend in Cross Hill.

Authorities said the car may have traveled downhill on a dirt road at high speed before bouncing off a wall and into the lake.

Lexington targeting rail crossing safety

A multiagency effort is under way in Lexington to enforce traffic laws around railroad crossings.

Lexington police, railroad companies, the S.C. Department of Public Safety and Operation Lifesaver are combining forces to ticket scofflaws at crossings, the Lexington Police Department said. Officers will be watching for speeding at crossings, among other violations, in an effort to reduce vehicle-train collisions and deaths from those collisions.

The campaign began Monday and continues through Sept. 30.

4 people charged in Internet posting

FOUNTAIN INN - Upstate police have arrested four people they say were part of a video posted on the Internet in which people were waving guns and smoking what appears to be marijuana.

The Greenville News reported Tuesday that authorities were still searching for six other men featured in the video showing a "Welcome to Fountain Inn" sign. The video was on YouTube, but has been removed by the person who posted it.

The four arrested over the weekend for weapons violations are: 25-year-old Michael Cunningham and 17-year-old Jermel Pyles, both of Fountain Inn; and 18-year-old Fredricous McCoy and 22-year-old Michael Sullivan Jr., both of Simpsonville.

Former football player admits killing cheerleader

UNION - A former college football player admitted Monday he stabbed his 16-year-old girlfriend to death while his wife held her down to prove his love.

Media outlets reported that former Wingate player Pernell Thompson, 21, agreed to plead guilty to murder to avoid a possible death sentence. His wife, Yolanda, pleaded guilty to similar charges and had agreed to testify against her husband. She is awaiting sentencing.

Thompson and his wife lured Union High School cheerleader Marisha Jeter to a parking lot in January 2008, where he stabbed her in the neck. The pair then dumped the girl's body over a bridge and burned her car, prosecutors said.

After pleading guilty, Thompson said "I apologize for the part I did play" and said he never wanted to harm Jeter.

"I know that she's in heaven. I know she's happy and that's one thing giving me peace," Thompson said. "I pray, I hope, for your forgiveness. But I know I don't need it. I received forgiveness from her."

Jeter was a class president and honor roll student. Her father is a trustee on the school board and said he can never forgive Thompson for stealing the special gift God gave him.

His final words to Thompson were: "You're going straight to hell and there ain't nothing nobody can ever do to help you."