Crime

Drugs, payment for arson and stab wounds: New details released in Socastee murder

Suspects appear in front of judge in Socastee murder case

A magistrate denied bond to four suspects accused of murder for Socastee area killing. The victims were found stabbed in a burned car. Horry County police have yet to identify the victims.
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A magistrate denied bond to four suspects accused of murder for Socastee area killing. The victims were found stabbed in a burned car. Horry County police have yet to identify the victims.

The two unidentified victims were stabbed and burned in a car – possibly while still alive – before police found them early Friday morning, prosecutors say.

That was one of several new details of a Socastee-area homicide that was released as part of bond hearings for four men accused of murder.

Horry County police charged Michael W. Faile, 37, with two counts of murder. David L. Cook, 44, faces two counts of murder, one count of arson and one count of possession of heroin. William D. Tatum, 37, was charged with two counts of murder, one count of arson, one count trafficking heroin and one count possession of scheduled drug. Zachary Stell, 31, was charged with two counts of murder and one count of arson.

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Police found the bodies of two victims in a burned vehicle on Friday morning at Butler Road and Highway 31 in the Socastee area.

The two victims were men but could not be identified by traditional techniques, such as fingerprints or tattoos, according to deputy coroner Michelle McSpadden.

The police investigation led to two names, according to McSpadden, though their identifies were not released as of Sunday evening.

According to an arrest warrant, Cook told police he was paid to burn and dispose of the victims and their car. Tatum also told police that Cook and Stell were hired to find a pound of heroin or fentanyl that were stolen from him.

Assistant Solicitor Josh Holford said the victims were stabbed and left in the car that was set ablaze.

Magistrate Bradley D. Mayers denied bond on the murder and arson charges for the four suspects. He noted that only a circuit court judge can set bond on charges such as murder, which carry a punishment of life in prison.

During the bond hearing at J. Reuben Long, Stell and Cook turned their back to media cameras to obscure their faces. Before the hearing, Cook became agitated when cameras were pointed at him as Tatum and Faile tried to block their faces.

Stell muttered that he wasn’t worried about having his picture taken.

“I’m not guilty, so I’m not worried about it,” Stell said. “They aren’t going to find any of my DNA.”

Police are on the scene where firefighters found two bodies in a burned car in Socastee Friday morning, July 27, 2018. Horry County police Capt. John Harrelson said firefighters responded to a report of a burning car Friday morning.

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