Crime & Courts

TV show retraces investigation of Lugoff woman’s slaying

Briana Rabon
Briana Rabon Columbia

The 2014 killing of 18-year-old Briana Rabon of Lugoff was featured Sunday on Investigation Discovery’s “On the Case with Paula Zahn.”

The show highlights the investigation that led the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office to Stephen Ross Kelly, a then-21-year-old who later pleaded guilty to the rape and strangulation of Rabon. Kelly is serving a 50-year sentence.

Zahn said the Elgin community was devastated when Rabon was discovered “savagely murdered along a deserted dirt road.” The show included interviews with Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews and the investigator in the case, Sgt. Justin Dill.

Matthews, who during the investigation characterized Kelly as a guy with “anger issues against women,” said Rabon was a typical 18-year-old. Both had attended Lugoff-Elgin High School.

Rabon’s mother, Linda Reynolds, said when Rabon went missing, she called the restaurant where her daughter was a hostess. Reynolds was told Rabon had not shown up. “Something’s wrong, something’s very wrong,” Reynolds said. The show features evidence photos from the crime scene, including Rabon’s restaurant nametag and her driver’s license.

Matthews said investigators feared other victims might follow.“Whoever the monster was that did this, if we don’t catch him, he may do this again,” Matthews said.

Tire marks found at the crime scene were from four different tires on the same vehicle, which helped lead investigators to Kelly’s dark blue Chevrolet Impala. Authorities also found surveillance footage.

Dill said that when he told Kelly he was under arrest, the man’s response was, “OK.”

“Just no remorse, no emotion, no denial, nothing,” Dill said.  

Kelly’s 50-year sentence is for murder, rape, kidnapping and an unrelated domestic violence charge involving his then-girlfriend. He pleaded to killing Rabon the day his trial was to begin in September 2015, saving himself from the prospect of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Several months before Rabon’s death, Kelly had been released from jail on probation after serving about four months on a charge of receiving stolen goods.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope