South Carolina residents have been riveted by the unstable behavior of their Governor Mark Sanford, but they have other things to be very nervous about and they should be.
Terrified residents canceled Fourth of July plans and holed up in their homes Friday as investigators hunted a serial killer believed to have shot four people to death.
Plenty of evidence links the killings, though officials have not yet determined how the victims are connected or if they knew whoever shot them, said Cherokee County Sheriff Bill Blanton.
"Yes, we have a serial killer," he said at a news conference in this rural community 50 miles south of Charlotte, N.C.
So far, all investigators have to go on is a sketch of a suspect and a description of a possible getaway vehicle, though police would not say who provided that information.
The latest victims were found in their family's small furniture and appliance shop near downtown Gaffney around closing time Thursday. Stephen Tyler, 45, was killed, and his 15-year-old daughter was shot and seriously injured. Tyler's wife, his older daughter and an employee found them in Tyler Home Center, County Coroner Dennis Fowler said.
A day earlier and about seven miles away, family members found the bodies of 83-year-old Hazel Linder and her 50-year-old daughter, Gena Linder Parker, bound and shot in Linder's home. Blanton would not say if Tyler and his daughter were also bound. The killing spree began last Saturday about 10 miles from Tyler Home Center, where peach farmer Kline Cash, 63, was found shot in his living room. Blanton said the killer may have first spoken with Cash's wife about buying hay. She left and came home a few hours later to find her husband's body. Investigators said it appears he was robbed, but they have not determined if anything was taken in the other killings.
The John Douglas book called Mind Hunter, is a pretty fascinating look (it gets interesting about 80 pages in) at how the FBI developed the profiling methods we see used today. Robert Ressler coined the term "Serial Killer," and also wrote a book about his experiences: Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI. He interviewed many of these killers in jail to better understand their behavior. He was interviewed by Thomas Harris, who then wrote two of the greatest novels on the subject, Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Both were made into excellent movies, (Who can forget Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter or SOTL's?) but South Carolina hopes that's not the case here. Let's hope he's caught quickly.