Third man in custody on murder, arson charges in Aynor man’s death

A third man was charged Tuesday in connection with the death of an Aynor man, who was found inside his burning home on April 29, Horry County police Lt. Robert Kegler said.

Douglas Thomas, 21, was arrested Tuesday night in Columbus County, N.C., and is being held pending extradition to Horry County where he will face charges of murder and first-degree arson, Kegler said.

Also charged are 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 April 29 death of Charles Bryant Smith, 68, who was found inside his home on U.S. 501, 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. April 29 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.