Originally created 01/24/02

Authorities charge 5 in teen's death



Five people were linked Wednesday to the kidnapping and brutal beating of a 16-year-old Augustan whose remains were found in Edgefield County woods, authorities said.

Those arrested include two high school students and the owner of an illegal escort service.

Authorities refused to discuss a motive or details of the case. Arrest warrants say Samuel James Sturrup Jr. was kidnapped on Cherry Street in Augusta on Sept. 3 and brutally beaten with a metal pipe and other objects.

His body was found in November in rural Edgefield County with a bullet hole in his skull, police said.

Edgefield County officials are working to obtain a murder warrant against at least one of the five arrested, Edgefield County sheriff's Chief Deputy Roger Lowe said. Because police suspect Samuel was killed in South Carolina, murder charges would have to be filed there.

On Wednesday morning, Richmond County investigators went to Lucy C. Laney High School and picked up student Antonio Dewayne Griffin, making the last of fi ve arrests for those identified in Samuel's disappearance and beating.

Richard Martes Cave, also a Laney student, was arrested Tuesday night.

In jail on charges of kidnapping and aggravated assault were: Mr. Cave, 19, of Miller Street, Augusta; Mr. Griffin, 18, of Wrightsboro Road, Augusta; and Julio Angel Hunsberger, 24, of Sandy Spring Road, Trenton, S.C.

Sheriff's officials announced the arrests after meeting with Shirley Sturrup, the teen's mother.

Richmond County Sheriff's Office Maj. Ken Autry said escort service owner Steven Louis Barnes, 23, and Charlene Ann Thatcher, 18, also will be charged in the kidnapping and aggravated assault of the teen-ager. They are in the Richmond County jail on charges related to the escort service.

"We always knew Steven Barnes was a suspect in the disappearance of Sturrup," Maj. Autry said. "I guess the big turn in the case was when the arrests were made in the illegal escort service."

Mr. Barnes and several employees were arrested last week as authorities shut down a prostitution ring in which clients were robbed after having sex with teen-age escorts, police said.

Mr. Barnes, the owner of AA Angels Escort Service in Augusta, is accused of running the prostitution ring and of kidnapping, assaulting and raping two women who refused to work for him.

Ms. Thatcher is in the Columbia County jail, charged with robbing clients Jan. 1 in Martinez after having sex with them, authorities said.

More arrests and victim revelations are possible as the investigation widens into Mr. Barnes' activities, Maj. Autry said.

Investigators say it was Mr. Barnes who introduced the four others to Samuel. The 16-year-old was known to associate with Mr. Barnes and was last seen with Mr. Barnes and his brother, Maj. Autry said.

Samuel was reported missing Oct. 7. On Nov. 20, a dog brought home a human skull that led police to Samuel's remains in a wooded area off Community Road in Edgefield County.

On Wednesday, Edgefield County officials returned to the wooded area in hopes of gathering more evidence, Chief Deputy Lowe said.


Staff Writer Albert Ross Jr. contributed to this article.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.