Murder charge dropped

Suspect in 19-year-old Logan case gave false confession, Peace says


June 22, 2007

Index-Journal managing editor

A 19-year-old murder case took a bizarre turn Wednesday when charges were dropped against the man who reportedly confessed to the crime, The Index-Journal has learned.
Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace said the suspect, Charles Wade Hampton, “falsely confessed” to the May 15, 1988 abduction and murder of 8-year-old Malakia “Kia” Logan. The girl was the daughter of former Saluda Mayor Richard Logan and Bernetta Logan, a local teacher.
“The murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual misconduct charges have been dropped,” Peace said.
“We couldn’t prove this case.”
Peace said Hampton, who has been held on the murder charge since 2002, also has “falsely confessed” to “one, maybe two murders in Georgia and one in Columbia. DNA testing didn’t match him in one of the Georgia cases.”
Hampton’s version of the events surrounding Kia’s death are remarkably convincing, Peace said.
“Reading his statement, you’d think that only the person who did that would know those details,” he said.
Authorities could not verify Hampton’s account of Logan’s murder with any hard evidence.
“Maybe he did it, maybe he didn’t,” Peace said. “But we can’t prove it.”
Without a solid case, the solicitor said he didn’t want to proceed to trial for fear that a not-guilty verdict would eliminate the state’s ability to prosecute Hampton again if new, concrete evidence is found linking Hampton to the crime. The Constitution prohibits double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same crime.
Hampton is not getting off scot-free, however.
“He (pleaded) today to a charge of obstruction of justice,” Peace said. “It’s a 10-year offense. The judge sentenced him to eight years. He gets credit for the four years he’s already served.”

About ‘Kia’

Malakia “Kia” Logan, a tiny third-grader at Merrywood Elementary School, disappeared May 15, 1988. A diminutive 4-foot-2 and 50 pounds at the time of her disappearance, Kia was born with two holes in her heart, her mother told reporters at the time.
She was playing basketball outside with her older sister. At 8:15 p.m., Kia hopped on her bike to ride to her home at nearby Georgetown Apartments. Fifteen minutes passed, but Kia never made it the 300 yards home. Her mother, a teacher, called the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office.
Kia’s bike was found beside the apartment office.
Witnesses reported seeing a stranger near the basketball court. He was described as white, blond and pockmarked, and was said to be driving a dark, older-model Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Witnesses did not, however, say Kia was seen near the man or getting into the car.

A break in the case

On Oct. 1, 1990, a Newberry deer hunter found a human skull on U.S. Forest Service land near S.C. 34. The skull was badly decomposed, but a University of South Carolina forensic anthropologist “told investigators the skull belonged to a 6- to 8-year-old African-American,” the Greenville News reported at the time. In 1993, the skull was sent to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, for DNA testing. The results were inconclusive. “Three years later, Newberry County investigators asked a private genetics lab in North Carolina to conduct further DNA tests,” the Greenville News reported. “Their findings showed the skull was highly consistent with Kia’s DNA.” In 1998, the skull was sent to the FBI lab in Washington, where it was confirmed as Kia’s skull. Authorities then deduced that Kia was killed in Greenwood County and dumped in Newberry.

Repeat occurrences

In 2002, the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office charged Hampton, then 50, with murder, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct with a minor and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct with a minor. He pleaded not guilty.
Hampton was jailed for eight years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections for pleading guilty to obstructing justice in the rape and abduction of a 5-year-old Richland County girl.
He made a false confession in that case, too.
Hampton was arrested in August 1996 in Georgia on a charge of felony peeping Tom. Records and published reports indicate Hampton pleaded guilty to that charge and received five years in the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Following that arrest, Hampton reportedly confessed to the Richland County case, but he later recanted those statements, and charges against Hampton in the rape case were dropped for lack of evidence, the Greenville News reported.

The early suspect

Published reports indicate Greenwood County investigators began looking at Hampton as a suspect in Kia’s death as early as 1996.
Then-Solicitor Townes Jones told reporters that investigators thought they had a case against Hampton by the summer of 2000 and were prepared to charge him, but Jones chose to wait because Hampton was already incarcerated in the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Had Greenwood officials started extradition proceedings, it would have activated an interstate agreement between South Carolina and Georgia requiring that Hampton be brought to trial within 180 days.
“The decision was made not to go forward with that type of constraint,” Jones told the Greenville News.

Similar to JonBenet

Peace likened the case to that of JonBenet Ramsey, the child beauty queen who was killed the day after Christmas 1996 in Boulder, Colo. On Aug. 16, 2006, John Mark Karr, a 41-year-old school teacher, reportedly confessed to her murder. On Aug. 28, 2006, district attorney Mary Keenan Lacy announced Karr’s DNA did not match the DNA found at the scene, and no charges would be brought against him.
“In JonBenet’s case, though, it was obvious that he wasn’t the killer. In (Kia’s) case, it’s not that obvious,” Peace said.
He offered his condolences to the Logan family.
“The case is 19 years old; the family has been living with it for 19 years. No closure,” he said. “They’re no closer today than they were back in 1988 when Kia was snatched up. “That’s really bad for the family.”


Greenwood skaters get airborne

Global holiday gives local residents chance to show off their skills at park

June 22, 2007

Index-Journal staff writer

You might not have known it, but Thursday was a holiday celebrated by people across the globe. It wasn’t a religious holiday, it didn’t celebrate a country’s independence and it didn’t honor a dead person’s birthday.
It was all about skateboarding.
Go Skateboarding Day began June 21, 2004.
It’s a day for skateboarders to grab their boards and hit the halfpipe.
Beth DeLoach is family services director at Greenwood Family YMCA. She was at the skate park Thursday at Greenwood Civic Center for the YMCA’s skate camp, which has been running all week in the mornings.
Today is the last day of camp.
Whether they knew about Go Skateboarding Day didn’t matter to the young skateboarders. They still cruised up ramps, vaulted over the pyramid and practiced their kickflips on the floor of the park.
And the campers weren’t the only skaters practicing their tricks.
No pain, no fun
Daniel Knight, 14, and James Ficklin, 14, came out just as individuals who, despite bone-crunching wipe-outs, continued their airborne assault on gravity and skate park ramps.
They didn’t know about GSD either, but were more than happy to talk about their skating experiences.
“I’ve been skating since I was three,” Ficklin said. “I shattered my knees doing a varial hillflip on the pyramid.”
When asked why he keeps skating, Ficklin shrugged as if a shattered knee was no more than a small contusion.
“I laugh at pain,” he said in a completely serious tone.
Knight is no stranger to injury, either. He suffered a nasty injury to his ankle.
“I fell and just said ‘I think I broke my ankle,’” Knight recalled. “I just stayed out here.”

Park history

Ken Freeman, a manager at Bikes and Boards, was out at the park helping with the YMCA camp as an instructor. He knew about the special day, even if others were clueless that they were skating on the sport’s holiday.
“It just started a few years ago,” Freeman said. “In larger cities they lave large demos and take-to-the-streets parties.”
South Carolina has a few celebrations of its own such as the Skate and Create in Columbia, an actual art exhibit of the creativity of skateboarding; MPRD Go Skateboarding Day in Mt.
Pleasant, an all-day skate; and a Survival Skateboards event in Charleston.
Freeman was one of the original group members who worked to get the skate park in Greenwood.
“It wasn’t until seven years ago when we first got confirmation we were getting it,” Freeman said. “Skateboarding increased tremendously.”
The skateboard enthusiast said Realtor Chuck Fox helped the group get the park.
“He saw the need for a park and brought the need before people who could do something about it.”
According to the Bikes and Boards manager, the park was created with $50,000.

Park in disrepair

After the laying of the concrete floor, which is still in good condition, only $30,000 was left for ramps, which are now in need of repair or replacement.
“Nobody wants to come out to the Civic Center and skate on some broken ramps,” Freeman said.
The crew said a broken half-pipe was taken out of the park, but they thought it would be replaced or fixed.
“There was no proper maintenance on this park,” Freeman said.
Knight pointed out a gap in the middle ramp called the pyramid. He also noted screws are sticking out of the top, which can catch a rider’s leg during a fall. Ficklin showed the scar from a laceration he sustained from a crash on that very ramp because of a protruding screw.
“You are more likely to get hurt the way the ramps are now,” Freeman said.


Freeman and the younger skaters realize they have been pinpointed by society as rebellious because of their choice of sport. They also know some will claim the skate park is in a shabby state because of them.
“Greenwood don’t like skateboarders,” Knight said with irritation in his voice.
“Our culture looks down on skateboarders,” Freeman added. “Any place that holds a gathering of them is looked down upon.”

No repairs planned

An April 16, 2006 article written by Joanie Baker in The Index-Journal described the condition of the skater’s domain.
It was reported that over the last five years two ramps have been stolen; the park had to be painted to cover profanity at least 10 times with a cost of $500 each time; two fires have destroyed trash bins and 20 feet of vinyl fence; and another fire was started in an attempt to burn the main structure of the park.
Also, 50 feet of fencing was torn down; the fence gate was destroyed; and bolts and screws have been removed in attempts to steal or collapse the structures — to name just a handful of the problems within the park.
Baker’s article quoted Greenwood County Parks and Recreation director Donnie Dowis as saying the park was “50 percent damaged and could cost $50,000 to repair.”
On Wednesday Dowis, still the director, said no recent changes have been made.
“We’re slowly eliminating the pieces of equipment that have been vandalized and deteriorated,” he said. “There are no plans at the present time to replace them.”

Fix it, they will come

Freeman pleaded his case that at the time of its construction, it was so popular that vandalism and drugs couldn’t occur because too many people were watching.
“If there are 30 kids out here, nobody is going to be doing drugs,” he said. “There are too many people who might call the cops.”
When asked if surveillance cameras could work in the park, Freeman said yes.
“As far as vandalism , cameras are a deterrent,” he said.
Those who have been using the skate park from its beginning want to see some positive changes.
“It’s been about six or seven years and realistically we should get new ramps,” Freeman said.
Skaters also realize Greenwood has the only skate park in the area. Anderson is the next closest one — and that park charges skaters.
“You don’t charge to play on the ballfields,” Freeman said, gesturing to one of many baseball and softball fields behind the park. He also said that because Greenwood has the only park in the area, skaters used to travel from quite a long distance to use the facilities.
“That brings in tourist dollars,” he said.
“If we did get more ramps, it would keep kids off the streets,” Knight said.
Freeman agreed. “I didn’t go to the streets until this place became unfun. If people could see it for what is was — a safe environment where kids could be independent and get exercise — it would be a much, much better place,” Freeman said.

9% rate upsets some

June 22, 2007

Index-Journal staff writer

There’s an old saying that only two things are certain in life: death and taxes.
Many Greenwood diners have been seeing a bit more of the latter in recent weeks.
In light of a recent convergence of several different increases, sales tax at restaurants within the Greenwood city limits has risen to 9 percent. Several factors have led to this figure.

Going up, up, up

In April 2006, a hospitality sales tax on prepared food went into effect in the city. This raised the sales tax at restaurants from the state base of 5 percent to 7 percent.
On May 1, 2007, a new penny-tax— passed by Greenwood County voters in a referendum last November — kicked in. That raised sales tax countywide and bumped the sales tax in city restaurants to 8 percent.
The penny-tax is designed to raise funds for the construction of the county library on South Main Street and bringing the specifications of the Buzzard Roost at Lake Greenwood up to new federal mandates.
On June 1, the state raised its base sales tax rate from 5 percent to 6 percent.
State officials say that raise is credited to the Homestead Exemption Fund for the purpose of reducing property taxes. That bump knocked sales taxes countywide up to 7 percent and 9 percent in Greenwood city restaurants.

Hospitality tax

Greenwood city manager Steven Brown said the hospitality tax that went into effect a year ago was passed as an ordinance by city council and was subject to the requisite public hearings.
“The areas affected by this tax are designed to improve the quality of life in Greenwood,” Brown said. “Time will tell if the council made the right decision in adopting that. But I am of the mind that the right decision was made.”
The hospitality tax is designed to raise funds specifically for improvements and maintaining tourism-related entities in Greenwood. Benefactors of the tax include Greenwood Community Theatre, The Museum, the to-be-constructed Lander University sports complex, the Federal Building and streetscape improvements along Oregon and Maxwell avenues, to mention a few.

‘Customers hate it’

Not surprisingly, the convergence of the three sales tax hikes hasn’t been met with entirely open arms.
“Oh, the customers hate it,” said Laura White, manager at O’Charley’s. “A lot of them don’t even know it’s 9 percent now, unless they look at their bill. I don’t think it was very highly publicized.”
White said customers gathered in groups of eight or more — which initiates automatic gratuity on the bill — get a sales tax double-whammy, as she said the state then levies tax against the subsequent automatic gratuity.
Not all customers seem to be aware of the sales tax hikes. In fact, it remains to be seen if some even care.
“Sales tax went up? Really?” asked Greenwood’s Taurus Willis Thursday as he carried his lunch out of Wendy’s Thursday. “I don’t even think about it when I’m grabbing something like this.”

Losing business?

Kevin Prater, of Sports Break, however, said he thinks the compendium of new taxes will hurt his big ticket sales. “I do think we could see a loss of business, particularly when it comes to big group events,” Prater said. “When you look at the hospitality tax in that situation, you’re talking about 2 more percent out of a bill that might be $2,000. That can add up quick.”
Prater said he is greatly concerned about all the taxes being imposed in local restaurants. He pointed out that those purchasing liquor are also subject to a 5 percent excise tax, bringing the total sales tax on those purchases to 14 percent.
“That’s just getting out of hand,” Prater said. “And don’t get me wrong, I want what is best for Greenwood. But I feel that the hospitality tax is one that is benefiting the whole county, but is being paid for by the customers of city restaurants.
“Why is city food and beverage getting picked on? Why couldn’t an ordinance add tax to all sales in the city?”

Why not countywide?

Prater questioned why the county did not pass a hospitality tax, while the city did. He noted that much of his nearby competition — Ruby Tuesday’s, Fuji Express, Easy’s, Chic-Fil-A and more that are in close proximity to Sports Break — are not subject to the tax as they are, unbeknownst to many residents, located in the county.
“He should pose that question to the county,” Brown suggested. Prater said he has yet to pose the question to the county, but said he plans to. Like White, Prater said he was not aware of the hospitality tax ordinance before it was voted on and came into effect last year.
“I didn’t hear about the first reading, second reading, third reading — none of it,” he exclaimed.

On the level

Brown insisted city council did everything by the book when approving the ordinance, which passed with a 5-1 vote (Johnny Williams cast the dissenting vote).
“It upsets me when I hear these ideas that this was somehow done behind closed doors or something of that nature,” Brown said. “Everything was on the up and up. It is totally unfair to suggest otherwise.”
Brown said if a person spends $50 a week eating out in the city, the additional 2 percent will cost him $52 per year.
“I think it is just way to early to jump the gun and pass judgment on this hospitality tax,” Brown said. “It is too early in the game to know what the real results are. I do think the revenue it generates will improve the quality of life for residents of Greenwood, along with attracting new residents.”
For his part, Prater said he is looking to form a Greenwood Restaurant Association in hopes a united group can have a strong voice in matters such as these. He said the next meeting will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Inn on the Square. Call 993-0991 for information.


Strong field dominates tournament

June 22, 2007

Special projects editor

Seven former champions, including the last two from Greenwood, are in the field for the Festival of Flowers Invitational Golf Classic.
The big event is one of two Festival tournaments this weekend, the GCC event starting at 7:45 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The other event, the seniors tournament, is at the Golf Club at Star Fort, starting at p.m. Saturday at noon and Sunday.
Returning to the invitational tournament are former winners Darren Womack (1985), Ron Schroder (1987) and Jim Hamilton Jr. (1990), all of Aiken.
Also returning are Mike Graveley (1991), of Greer; Steve Liebler (2002), of Irmo; and Chip Whitt (2004) and Ben Martin (2006), of Greenwood.
At least three former champions, including Vince Hatfield (2005), of Greenwood, have joined the professional ranks and are not eligible to play.
“Looking at the field, it’s stronger than it has been in the past,” said GCC pro Ed Carlisle Jr., in his second year with the tournament that has become one of the highlights around the state each year.
“We’ve got two winners from the Four-Ball Championship, and we’ve got one who just won the Junior Championship. And, we’ve got some local players who can be up there. It’s a strong field.”
Will Oldham, of Spartanburg, and Patrick Rada, of Anderson, recently claimed the Four-Ball Championship at Camden, and Wesley Bryan, of Chapin, captured the Junior Championship at Orangeburg.
“We have about 45 plus-handicaps coming,” Carlisle said. “That’s below par, meaning if you shoot 72 you have to add one to the score.”
Greg Rawlings, of Greenwood, the only player to win more than once (he has three titles), did not enter, but the defending champion, Ben Martin, is ready to go, along with Whitt.
Players will go off from the green tees, which will measure about 6,800 yards, with flights determined after the first day of play.
“The pin placements will be pretty easy the first day, but a little more difficult on Sunday,” Carlisle said. “This is not your typical tee-it-up-and-scramble event, like some of the others.
It has become an incredible event, and it’s nice to pull players from all over the state.” He said there is a waiting list of players who will not be able to play this year, unless someone unexpectedly withdraws. The field is full at 88 players.
Besides the three former winners, area players in the field are Stephen Boggs of Hodges, Chris Cooper of Due West, Josh Henderson of Hodges, Thomas Hite III of Greenwood, as well as Greenwood’s Marcus Ling, Jeff Long, Will Lowther, Matt Martin, Michael Meredith, Thomas Moore, Chris Piontek, Walter Roark, Furman Self, Cooper Tinsley, Jason Willard, Lawrie Wilson and Patrick Wilson.
Also, Noel Thompson of Abbeville, Thomas Todd of Laurens, John West of Abbeville, Jeff McCutcheon of Ninety Six, Phil Milner of Laurens, and Jeffrey Moats of Abbeville.
Practice rounds are scheduled for today.



Mabel Gilchrist Harrison

McCORMICK — Mrs. Mabel Gilchrist Harrison, widow of Robert Lee Harrison, died at her home June 18, 2007. She was born in Edgefield, SC, Sept. 9, 1927, a daughter of the late Fred Lee Gilchrist and Hattie Brunson Gilchrist. She was a faithful member of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Survivors are four daughters, Ms. Joann Harrison of McCormick, Ms. Minnie Harrison of Washington, DC, Mrs. Mary (Raymond) Cartledge and Mrs. Jessie (Gilbert) Morgan, both of Plum Branch, SC; one son, Bobby L. Harrison of McCormick; a grandson reared in the home, Neal Harrison; three sisters, Mrs. Mattie (Leroy) Chiles of Pittsburgh, PA, Mrs. Fannie Mae (Henry) Williams of Ninety Six, SC, Ms. Wanda Gilchrist of McCormick, SC; four brothers, George Gilchrist of Washington, Johnny (Virginia) Gilchrist of McCormick, SC, Robert (Margaret) Gilchrist and Tommie (Ruby) Gilchrist, both of Maxton, NC; a sister-in-law, Ernestina Gilchrist of Washington; sixteen grandchildren; and twenty-nine great-grandchildren.
Services are Saturday at Noon at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, with the Pastor, Rev. Michael Butler and Rev. J.C. Williams officiating. Interment is in the church cemetery. The family is at the home of a daughter Mrs. Raymond (Mary) Cartledge at 693 Highway 283 in Plum Branch, SC. Services by Walker Funeral Home.

Martin Sammons

Martin H. Sammons, Jr., 83, of 201 Orchard Drive, widower of Constance Anzelmo Sammons, died Thursday, June 21, 2007, at NHC of Laurens.
Services will be announced by Harley Funeral Home and Crematory.

Carol Scurry

Carol Jean Hutto Scurry, 52, of 109 Lanier Wood Drive, widow of Dr. R. Brooks Scurry, died Thursday, June 21, 2007, at her home.
Services will be announced by Blyth Funeral Home & Cremation Services.

Olin Thomas Wells

WARE SHOALS — Olin Thomas Wells, 82, formerly of Ware Shoals, died June 21, 2007 at National Health Care in Greenwood. He was born in Anderson County, a son of the late Henry Preston and Effie Crawford Wells.
Mr. Wells was retired from Riegel Textile Corp., where he was a member of the Quarter Century Club. He was also retired from the SC National Guard and served 50 years with the Ware Shoals Volunteer Fire Department. He was a member of the Hodges Church of God.
Surviving is a sister, Shirley Adams and husband, Calvin of Hodges and Billy Wells, raised in the home; along with a number of nieces and nephews.
He is predeceased by five brothers, Quincy, Paul, Harold, Edgar and Horace Wells and three sisters, Lillian Wells, Mamie R. Wells and Sara W. Brown.
Funeral services will be conducted Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Hodges Church of God, with Rev. Charles Caldwell, Rev. Wayne Wicker and Rev. Dr. Marcus Bishop officiating. Burial will follow in the Mt. Olive Baptist Church Cemetery.
Active Pallbearers will be Joe Wells, Junior Wells, Mike Wells, Steve Wells, Keith Smith, J.W. Brock, Claude Brock, Lanny Meeks and Billy Cann. Honorary Pallbearers will be Donnie Hodges, Wayne Moore, David Smith, Jack Smith, Ray Smith, Billy Smith, P.R. Ashley, Edward Arnold, Donnie O’Dell, Jennings O’Dell, Roy Simpson, Roy Davis, John “PeeWee” Simpson, Harold Kay, Joe Skinner, Wayne Traynham and the W.S. Fire Department and the W.S. National Guard, with whom he served.
The family is at the home of Calvin and Shirley Adams and will receive friends Saturday, 7 to 9 p.m., at Parker-White Funeral Home.


Rejecting REAL-ID Act saves taxpayers a bunch

June 22, 2007

In these times of identity theft and terrorist threats it’s natural - and wise - to look for ways to cope with those problems. In our haste to find answers, though, it’s easy to throw the baby out with the bath water. That is, while trying to solve one problem we’re liable to create another one, or two, or three.
Take a federal mandate that would set new driver’s license standards as possible solutions to the ID theft and terrorist problems.. When that mandate was issued South Carolina joined a lot of other states in rejecting that proposal. To their credit, state lawmakers approved a bill not to participate in the federal act and Gov. Mark Sanford signed it into law.

THE REASONING? FOR ONE thing it would cost the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars. That was the main concern, but there were others, such as it would have created long lines at Department of Motor Vehicles offices. That may not sound like much, but for those who’ve spent time in such lines it has meaning.
Sanford said if the federal government wants stricter ID standards it should provide the funds to do it as well as leave it to the states to determine what works best for each.
Critics also argued that the REAL-ID Act would, in effect, amount to a national ID card, and that raised a red flag.

THAT, OF COURSE, BRINGS UP chilling reminders of people living in watchful and oppressive states, such as Nazi Germany or the old Communist Soviet Union, where the secret police stopped individuals and demanded to see their “papers.”
That may sound overly dramatic, but lesser things have led to worse results. So, we can thank our lawmakers and the governor for doing the right thing.
First, though, give credit to Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens Counties. He was one of the first to recognize what the REAL ID Act could do, including the negative possibilities - and dangers - it represented. He early on spoke against it and, to our benefit, his views prevailed.
We must find a way to improve related security measures, of course. This, however, was not it.