Originally created 11/16/02

Across South Carolina



Youth minister admits having sex with minors

ANDERSON -A youth minister has pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with children in his youth group.

James Williams Bell had served as the youth minister at Mount Tabor Baptist Church for a year and a half before his January arrest.

Mr. Bell, 26, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the second degree, four charges of a lewd act on a child under 16, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

After one of the boys told his parents, Mr. Bell admitted to the church pastor and the sheriff's office that the allegations were true, his attorney, Steve Haigler said.

Two were shot dead in robbery, police say

NORTH CHARLESTON - A man and a woman were gunned down at a convenience store, and police suspect they were shot during a robbery.

A North Charleston police officer found the two as he was checking the store shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday.

The victims were identified as Anita Chaudhardi and Virendra Puniyani, both 35 and both from North Charleston, said Charleston County Deputy Coroner Judy Koelpin. Both died from shots fired from a handgun, she said.

Robbery is suspected in beating death

COLUMBIA - Richland County deputies say robbery might have been the motive in last weekend's beating death of a Midlands man.

H.B. Sharpe, 62, was found dead on the floor of his home Nov. 9.

On Thursday, deputies arrested Gerald Smith, 42, of Swansea, and charged him with murder. Jon Areheart, 43, of West Columbia, was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.

Officials consider weeding with carp

COLUMBIA - Natural Resource Department officials have released a plan that calls for dumping nearly 65,000 carp into Lake Murray next spring to eat excess weeds.

It would be a conservative start toward controlling the hydrilla and pondweed choking the lake west of Columbia, and it would not endanger the greenery on which other fish feed, officials said.

A final decision on whether to introduce the fish to the lake is expected in January.