Crime & Courts

Colonial Drive house fire ruled arson

A fire that caused $60,000 worth of damage to a two-story house at 5214 Colonial Drive has been ruled an arson, the Columbia Fire Department said Monday.

"It appears that some kind of accelerant, a flammable liquid, was used," said Deputy Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins. "There were two people who live at the home, and neither were there when the fire department arrived."

Jenkins said neighbors called in the fire, which happened late Sunday afternoon.

Officials believe the fire started on the house's second floor. They have no suspects at this time.

Columbia Fire Department investigators are working on the case.


Woman's body is identified

A woman found dead under suspicious circumstances Sunday in Cayce has been identified as 51-year-old Barbara Robinson.

The death is the city's first homicide in years, Cayce police Lt. Michael Gearon said.

Investigators are talking with family and witnesses but have not identified a suspect. Robinson was a Cayce resident, police said.

Her body was found in a wooded area in the backyard of an abandoned house at 2324 Lee St. Two people cutting through the yard spotted the body, Gearon said.

The State Law Enforcement Division is assisting.


Court date set for man involved in wildfire

A man involved in the most destructive wildfire in South Carolina history is facing a court date to answer to charges.

Court documents show the trial for Marc Torchi is set for Wednesday in Central Jury Court in Conway, a magistrate-level court. Torchi had earlier requested a jury trial in the case.

Authorities say an April wildfire along the Grand Strand that destroyed 76 homes and damaged nearly 100 others started four days earlier as a debris fire in Torchi's backyard.

Torchi could be fined $732, but he says he's been unfairly blamed. He says he called Horry County firefighters when his fire got out of control, and firefighters thought they had completely put out the fire.


Missing man found beaten to death

Authorities say a missing 72-year-old Taylors man has been found beaten to death and they are searching the area where his body was found for his missing wife.

Anderson County deputy coroner Don McCown told media outlets the body of Homer Staton was found off a rural road about 40 miles from the restaurant where he was last seen Friday night eating with his 68-year-old wife, JoAnn.

Authorities say the couple's car was found a few miles away.

McCown says Staton died from blows to the head and he may have been beaten inside his vehicle.


Container falls onto truck, killing man

An Edgefield man was killed after a tractor-trailer hit a train trestle, causing the container the rig was hauling to fall onto the man's pickup truck.

The Augusta Chronicle reported 27-year-old Jeremy Jay was killed instantly in crash about 7 a.m. Monday.

Authorities say the tractor-trailer entering Edgefield struck the trestle. A crane was used to help remove the container.

The newspaper says two or three tractor-trailers hit the 13-foot-tall trestle each year.


Men died from impact of plane crash

A coroner says four men who died when a small plane crashed in South Carolina last week were killed from the impact of the crash, not from the ensuing fire.

The Port and Courier of Charleston reports Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet said Monday the cause of the deaths was blunt force injury.

The six-passenger Piper PA-23 crashed and burned shortly after takeoff from the Summerville Airport shortly before dawn Oct. 21.

The four men - three from South Carolina and one from Delaware - were going to the Bahamas for an amateur radio competition.

A woman who lives nearby said she heard a grinding noise from the plane's engine before hearing an explosion.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.


Second person charged in 2005 slaying

A Spartanburg man has been charged with murder in the 2005 death of a man shot five times and killed during a home invasion.

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported Monday that 29-year-old Michael Marion Arnold is the second person charged in the death of Abdul Haleem Ali II. Steven Lamar Hoey was charged with murder in 2007.

Authorities say Ali was shot several times on Aug. 31, 2005, and his car was stolen. Ali ran to a nearby store for help, but died a short time later.

Police say another arrest is expected.