Originally created 11/21/02

Four face charges of kidnapping

Authorities know how the person found in the trunk of a burning car earlier this week died, but they still haven't identified the body.

Meanwhile, Columbia County deputies have charged four people with kidnapping the car's owner.

Those arrested are:

  • Shannon Devon Patton, 17, of the 200 block of Oakridge Drive, Martinez;
  • Randy Allen Conrad II, 17, of the 3900 block of Casa Rosa Avenue, Martinez;
  • Marcus Torez McCord, 18, of the 100 block of Cyndee Circle, Martinez;
  • A 16-year-old juvenile from Augusta.
  • Each is charged with kidnapping, auto theft and burglary, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. The four teens, who were arrested at a residence on Warren Road in Augusta, were being held without bond in the Columbia County Detention Center on Wednesday.

    Capt. Morris said that it is still too early in the investigation to comment on a motive and that the four suspects were being interviewed late Wednesday.

    "It is going to take a while to put it all together," he said. "We have more answers today than we did yesterday, but much work still has to be done. There is only one thing for certain - this case is far from over."

    Police said Mr. Patton is the stepson of Jack A. Murray, 63, whose burning Mercedes was discovered Monday on a logging road in Sumter National Forest, near the McCormick County, S.C., line. Capt. Morris said Mr. Patton is absent without leave from the military.

    Mr. Murray divorced Mr. Patton's mother in 2000. According to divorce documents, Mr. Murray accused Jacquelyn W. Patton-Murray of abusing him on various occasions, including a September 1998 incident that led him to file for divorce. In an August 1998 Columbia County sheriff's report, Mrs. Patton-Murray is accused of striking Mr. Murray with a crystal candy dish, sending him to Doctors Hospital with a cut on his head.

    Mrs. Patton-Murray also accused Mr. Murray of physical abuse, asking for a restraining order against him in her October 1998 response to his divorce petition. At the time, Mr. Murray had obtained a restraining order against Mrs. Patton-Murray and her son and daughter-in-law.

    The couple married in November 1997 and separated 10 months later. The divorce was finalized in March 2000. Reports in the case file list Mrs. Patton-Murray, her son Don Demonico Dewan Patton and his wife, Tavada Zimmerman Patton, as divorce defendants.

    The case file includes mention of several confrontations, including an accusation against the then-13-year-old Shannon Devon Patton: On Sept. 16, 1998, the boy allegedly grabbed and hit Mr. Murray. His mother said the boy was pulling Mr. Murray off of her. Two days later, Mr. Murray filed for divorce.

    Although authorities suspect that the body in the burned car is Mr. Murray's, Columbia County authorities said they consider him "missing and endangered" until they have a positive identification.

    Police searched Mr. Murray's Oakton Trail home in Evans on Monday after the car was traced to that address.

    The victim was burned alive in the trunk of the car, according to a report from the Edgefield County Coroner's Office. The person died of smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning and thermal burning, the report indicated.

    Edgefield County Coroner Thurmond Burnett said authorities might have a positive identification of the victim by today.

    Lt. Joel Summer of the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office said investigators did not know how long the car was on fire before firefighters responded.

    Staff Writers Jason Smith and Matthew Boedy contributed to this report.

    Reach Melissa Hall or Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222.


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