UPDATE: After this story appeared in The Sun News, the remains of William “Chet” Clemons were released to Jerry Taynor, who was able to bring his brother home for burial.
His brother was killed and dumped in a wooded field, but one month later Jerry Taynor still isn’t able to bring his brother’s remains home for burial.
He says that a past accusation of child molestation had nothing to do with his brother’s murder. A preliminary hearing for the two suspects charged in the killing is scheduled for this week.
Taynor says the funeral home that cremated William “Chet” Clemons wants nearly $700 – the cost of the cremation, before the remains are released.
“I ain’t got the funds. I took my rent money to get down here,” Taynor said, sitting in a Myrtle Beach hotel room Tuesday after catching a ride down from Ohio with family friends. “I was wanting to bring him home because this has been dragging out over a whole month now.”
Clemons and his wife, Linda McAllister, were reported missing from their Conway home after they were last seen on July 1. Fourteen days later, their remains were discovered near the Bucksville boat landing in an area where the couple once lived.
Police were “99.9 percent” positive that the remains found were those of Clemons and McAllister, Taynor said, but it took nearly 10 more days before tests could confirm it.
“All we want to know is what happened and (to) take him home. That’s all we want,” said Angela Clemons Anderson, Taynor’s niece and Clemons’ cousin.
Kenneth Wayne Carlisle, 28, and Jordan Marie Hodge, 21, are each charged with the murders of 64-year-old Linda McAllister and 45-year-old William Clemons. Hodge was McAllister’s granddaughter, according to a statement from McAllister’s family.
A preliminary hearing for the two suspects is set for Friday, but Taynor says his limited funds won’t allow him to stay for the hearing.
“I’ve got to go home tomorrow and I just don’t know what I’m going to do. Go home empty-handed and be left in the dark,” Taynor said, as tears welled up in his eyes.
A victim’s assistance fund should cover the costs of Clemons’ cremation and shipping fees associated with getting the remains home, said Seth Oskin, an assistant solicitor who is helping prosecute the murder case.
Taynor filled out an application for the assistance Wednesday morning, but Oskin says it may be a couple of weeks before everything is approved.
Search for answers
Taynor and Anderson have been searching for answers to piece together what happened to Clemons in the last few moments of his life.
A bloody truck, stolen bank cards used after the couple’s death and a final cellphone ping led police to arrest Hodge and Carlisle, according to arrest warrants.
A foul odor near the landing led police to the remains.
“No one deserves this. Not to be left like that, shot in the back and disregarded as a piece of trash,” Taynor said, his voice buckling under another wave of grief.
Taynor said McAllister’s family reached out to his relatives through social media to ask if the two were in Columbus, Ohio.
The last McAllister’s family heard was that the two were heading to Ohio to attend a funeral, but Taynor said no one in their family had died.
“(Dara Hodge, Jordan Hodge’s mother) said they were missing and I knew right away something was wrong,” Taynor said.
Days later, he learned their remains had been discovered in an Horry County Police Department Facebook post, he said.
Who was Chet Clemons?
“He was my youngest brother,” Taynor said.
William “Chet” Clemons was born on Sept. 24, 1971.
“He had triple pneumonia when he was born and he was in the hospital for his first three months of his life,” Taynor said. “We didn’t think he was going to live, but he pulled through it.”
Clemons loved country music and rock-and-roll.
In the early 90s, Clemons suffered burns to his hands and feet after running into a burning house to try to save a neighbor in Ohio, his family said.
“There was propane tanks and stuff in there that were going to go off and (the neighbor) was ex-police. He had shells in there and there were shells going off,” Taynor said. “Chet tried to grab him and pull him out of it, but he couldn’t pull him out.”
Clemons moved to the Myrtle Beach area 16 years ago.
“He was a jokester, just a laid back guy,” Taynor said. “He wasn’t no hardcore criminal.”
But Clemons did have a few run-ins with the law.
He was arrested in 2014 on charges of criminal sexual conduct with a minor after a girl in West Virginia told detectives he inappropriately touched her on multiple occasions.
But Taynor says the girl was prompted to make the accusation by Clemons’ disgruntled ex-girlfriend, who never returned to court for his prosecution.
Clemons took an Alford plea to one count of first-degree assault and battery in 2015, never formally admitting guilt. He was not required to register as a sex offender.
“I know he was portrayed down here as a child molester and had charges or whatever,” Taynor said. “I don’t believe he did anything like that. I believe it was just a way for her (his ex-girlfriend) to get back at him.”
But everything changed when Clemons met McAllister. Taynor said the two were inseparable and were married last October. He came to see them in May when the two had sold McAllister’s house near the Bucksville landing and were in the process of moving to the Dewberry home, where they were last seen.
“We want South Carolina to know that people loved him,” Anderson said. “We loved him.”
Taynor says he hopes to have a memorial service once he gets his brother’s remains home. Clemons will be laid to rest by their mother’s grave, he said.