Two N.C. men charged with murder, arson in Aynor man’s death

Horry County police charged two North Carolina men in connection with the death of an Aynor man found inside his burning home earlier this week.

Tommy Lee Benton, 20, of Chadbourn, N.C., and Mitchell Douglas Cheatham, 19, of Council, N.C., were each charged with murder and arson in the Tuesday death of Charles Bryant Smith, 68, who was found inside his home on U.S. 501, Horry County police Lt. Robert Kegler said.

The men are in custody in North Carolina and are awaiting extradition to Horry County.

Officers were called about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday to Smith’s home for a fire and found Smith dead inside the home, Kegler said.

Authorities said Smith was found near the front door of the home and had suffered some burns, but his cause of death has not been released.

Based on evidence found in the home, detectives determined Smith’s death was a homicide and the fire was intentionally set, Kegler said. Police identified the men and they were taken into custody on unrelated charges.

This case remains active with additional arrests possible, Kegler said.