Crime & Courts

Hit-and-runs and shootings: Midlands police still trying to resolve these 2018 deaths

How do you catch a cold-case criminal? Perhaps with a DNA-based mug shot

Parabon Nanolabs, a Virginia-based company, uses genetic traits from DNA samples to predict the suspect's physical appearance, including ancestry, hair and eye color. The technology could help police solve cold cases.
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Parabon Nanolabs, a Virginia-based company, uses genetic traits from DNA samples to predict the suspect's physical appearance, including ancestry, hair and eye color. The technology could help police solve cold cases.

Justin Turner helped his wife through two bouts with cancer before a car hit him while cycling, killing the father of three.

A decomposed body was found by two teenagers off a rural road in Kershaw County. Police would later identify the dead body as Tykendrick Jamail Williamson, a homeless man known in the area.

These are a couple of the 2018 Midlands killings that have gone unresolved. The State looked back at cases involving deaths from Lexington, Richland, Kershaw and Sumter counties that are still under investigation.

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Justin Turner with his wife and children Provided photo

Justin Turner, 40

In August, Justin Turner was bicycling in northeast Columbia when a vehicle failed to yield at a stop sign and pulled in front of a BMW, causing the BMW to swerve and hit Turner. The incident happened on Hardscrabble Road and Lake Carolina Boulevard. Turner later died at a hospital, leaving behind a wife and three children. The S.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the incident and still looking for the driver who caused the accident. The only lead is that the car that failed to yield may have been silver, an Highway Patrol spokesperson said. The patrol is asking for any tips to help solve the case.


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Norman Cherry, Jr. around 2005 Provided to The State

Norman Cherry, Jr., 46

Calls of shots fired on the 600 block of Woodtrail Drive in Gaston came in around 4 p.m. on July 10, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said. Deputies found Norman Cherry Jr. dead. The next day the Lexington County coroner said Cherry’s death was a homicide. A person shot Cherry multiple times in the upper body. Deputies interviewed “involved parties” and said no one had been arrested and no suspect was being sought. The shooting was an isolated incident, said Capt. Adam Myrick of the sheriff’s department. Cherry was known as “Lupie” to his friends. One online memorial to Cherry said, “One of a kind! gentle giant! funny as hell.” Another read, “He was always a quiet person but when he talked, he would make you laugh!”

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Brandon Jamal Blanding Submitted to The State

Brandon Jamal Blanding, 28

A Gaston resident, Brandon Jamal Blanding was shot in the chest and died in a hospital on the night of Aug. 2. He was shot at 320 South Beltline Blvd. near the Woodland Terrace Apartments. A Columbia Police Department spokesperson said Blanding’s shooting death is still be investigated to determine if a crime occurred. His obituary said, “Brandon accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior at an young age, and joined St. Paul Baptist Church. He had an amazing sense of humor and could make anyone laugh. He also had a big heart and a passion for life.” He was a father to a son.

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Two teenagers found Tykendrick Jamail Williamson behind a cinder block building on Bob Hugh Rd in Kershaw County. Google Maps

Tykendrick Jamail Williamson, 30

On Aug. 10, two teenagers found the decomposed body of Tykendrick Jamail Williamson behind a cinder-block building on Bob Hugh Road in Jefferson, a rural community of Kershaw County. Williamson did not have a fixed address, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office said. His body appeared to be placed behind the building days before the discovery. Investigators learned that Williamson was involved in a fight earlier in the week but said they didn’t have a solid motive for the 30-year-old’s death. The investigation is ongoing. “We have very little information at all other than a decomposed body,” said Chief Jack Rushing of the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve just had very few tips or anything.” Investigators ask anyone with information on Williamson to contact the Kershaw sheriff’s office.

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The SCHP put out this flier depicting what the suspected vehicle in Sharpe’s death looked like. Provided by SCHP

Christopher Samson Sharpe, 54

Christopher Samson Sharpe was bicycling on U.S. 321, also known as South Main Street, near Sprahler Street in Gaston in Lexington County, when a truck hit him and fled, the S.C. Highway Patrol reported. Sharpe was riding in the median when he was hit. The coroner pronounced Sharpe dead on the scene. The incident happened Sept. 21 around 6 a.m. The Highway Patrol found the truck that hit Sharpe. Investigators are searching for the owner.

Three bullet holes are seen in the door of an apartment in the 400 block of Deerwood Street where a 17-year-old was shot and killed. 10/29/18 Tracy Glantz

Codath Robert Presher, 17

Around 9 p.m. on Oct. 28, people heard gunshots near the 400 block of Deerwood Street off Rosewood Drive near South Beltline Boulevard. When Richland County sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Presher shot in the upper body. He was shot through the front door of an apartment. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating Presher’s death. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC. Callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

creek where Chester Alphonso Stavis was found
The Sumter creek where Chester Alphonso Stavis was found. Google Maps

Chester Alphonso Stavis, 31

Chester Alphonso Stavis was better known as “Rock” by his friends, according to his obituary. His body was found face down in a shallow waterway near Dicks and Rast streets in Sumter on Nov. 21. He was shot, but where and when is unknown. On Dec. 10, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department announced a $5,000 reward for information that would help police make an arrest. “We can’t sleep at night, missing meals, it really hurts,” Katana Thomas, Stavis’ sister, told WACH-TV. “It seems so unreal. I have flashbacks, just to see ... him face down in the water, just there like he’s nothing.”






Justin Turner was killed in a hit-and-run in northeast Richland County, SC, on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. In a recent interview recorded by the couple's church, they recall how they met and his wife, Brooke's, battle with breast cancer.

Do you know right-of-way laws? What about bike safety and pathway laws? If you're ready to test your knowledge of state bike laws, press play.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.