COLUMBIA — A former South Carolina police officer faces charges that he destroyed evidence related to a decades-old murder case, authorities said.
George Ralph Bobo, 53, was arrested Tuesday by the State Law Enforcement Division and charged with obstructing justice and misconduct in office, said Solicitor Walt Wilkins.
Bobo recently resigned as Mauldin’s police chief but was previously an officer in Simpsonville. It was there in 1984 that authorities discovered the body of 20-year-old Cassandra Johnson in a wooded area. She had been stabbed multiple times.
Bobo is accused of destroying physical evidence related to Johnson’s case sometime between March 2000 and January 2012, when he left the department. Wilkins wouldn’t say exactly what the evidence was but that Bobo’s alleged crime has compromised his ability to prosecute Johnson’s killer. He said he doesn’t know what the motive might have been.
“It ultimately taints a significant part of the case, therefore making it very difficult to pursue a potential suspect,” said Wilkins, who said he would turn prosecution of Bobo’s case over to another agency because the two had worked on cases together before.
Bobo was released from jail on $60,000 bail, and a message left at his home wasn’t immediately returned. His attorney, Jim Bannister, did not immediately comment on the case.
When Johnson was killed nearly three decades ago, advanced DNA testing wasn’t available, Wilkins said. But authorities were still actively investigating the woman’s case more than a decade later when, upon sending evidence to state police to analyze a second time, they realized a key piece was missing.
“We were not at a dead end in this particular case,” Wilkins said.
Initially, Wilkins said investigators had six potential suspects. One person was arrested last year, but those charges were ultimately dismissed, Wilkins said, adding that the dismissal wasn’t directly related to Bobo’s case.