Originally created 06/28/99

Vigil honors slain Sam's manager



Friends and family of Sam's Club manager David Holt held a candlelight vigil Sunday night to honor the slain South Carolinian's memory and to help bring police closer to catching his killer.

About 100 people paid tribute to the slain man in front of the Sam's Club store on Bobby Jones Expressway in Augusta. They stood comforting each other in the light rain, singing hymns and praying.

A flower wreath was displayed alongside a Sam's Club employee vest, an eerie reminder of the gruesome killing and robbery a year ago Sunday. Mr. Holt was last seen alive at the store.

Richmond County sheriff's officers surrounded the vigil to protect those remembering Mr. Holt and to take note of who attended.

"A lot of them (people at the vigil) are still fearful and intimidated," sheriff's Investigator Wayne Bunton said when asked why the press wasn't allowed near the vigil. "We don't anticipate any problems tonight, but we do want to see who shows up here."

Since Mr. Holt's burned body was discovered in the trunk of his Mazda Protege in a secluded wooded area just over the Fifth Street bridge in Aiken County, police have been under pressure to find his killer.

"We're close," Investigator Bunton said in an earlier interview. "We're close to bringing this thing to an end, but we don't want to do it hastily. We only have one shot."

For the past year, Richmond County sheriff's investigators have been working with Aiken County authorities, the FBI and South Carolina's State Law Enforcement Division to find Mr. Holt's killer.

Mr. Holt, 45, who lived in Cayce, S.C., was last seen walking an employee to her car in the Sam's Club parking lot. Moments later -- just after midnight June 21, 1998 -- he set the alarm, locked the store and left.

Mr. Holt apparently returned to the store about 1:30 a.m., likely at the coercion of the robbers, and the alarm was dismantled and the store's safes emptied. After that, he was killed.

Katie Throne can be reached at (706) 823-3332 or katie.throne@augustachronicle.com.