2 arrested in Barnwell slaying

BARNWELL, S.C. — Two arrests have been made in the Nov. 1 death of a Barnwell woman whose body was found in her burning home.


Michael Paul Buckmon, 36, of Barnwell, and Matthew Bolen, 23, of Williston, are charged with murder, first-degree arson, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and conspiracy in the death of Donna Dempsey, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt.

Dempsey's body was discovered when the Barnwell Fire Department was called to a house fire on Berry Street. An autopsy revealed 56-year-old Dempsey died of smoke inhalation from the fire.

"It was further determined that she had a blunt-force injury to her head," said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward in a news release. 

Her body was found after her fiancé, Loy Mitcham Sr., reported the fire around 10:45 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had burned itself out, though Barnwell City Fire Chief Tony Dicks said there was "intensive heat."

Bolen was arrested Monday in Anderson County and is awaiting transport back to Barnwell County, Gantt said.

The police chief said he could not comment on any connections between the victim and the two suspects.



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