Crime & Courts

Two men found dead after an ‘accident.’ Now two face murder charges, SC cops say

Matthew Brown
Matthew Brown Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office

When two bodies were found in a car, it was initially investigated as a crash by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. But it was determined to be “more than just a motor vehicle accident,” according to an incident report from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

It was a “murder scene,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

On Tuesday, two men were arrested for what the sheriff described as “senseless murders,” in the release.

“My investigators have been on this case nearly nonstop once it was discovered to have been a crime rather than an accident,” Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said in the news release.

Holly Hill residents Matthew Brown, 23, and Connell Sheppard, 38, were each charged with two counts of murder, the sheriff’s office reported in the news release.

A damaged 2004 Chevrolet Impala was discovered on Dec. 9, 2018, according to the incident report.

But after beginning a traffic crash investigation, a highway patrol trooper contacted the sheriff’s office “after becoming suspicious of injuries sustained by two men inside the vehicle,” according to the news release.

The trooper determined it was no accident because of the damage caused and injuries on the bodies of the victims — identified only as a 29- and 34-year-old in the incident report.

According to an autopsy, both men “suffered fatal gunshot wounds,” the sheriff’s office said in the news release.

Brown’s bond was deferred to a circuit court judge at a later date in a hearing Tuesday, while Sheppard is expected to appear in court later this week, per the news release.

Horry County police are looking for men who they say murdered a person sitting in a car Wednesday at a Longs grocery store. The suspects fled and committed armed robberies after the initial incident, police said.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.