While responding to several high-profile crimes in a month is an anomaly and stretched Horry County police resources, the last thing the agency is doing is giving up.
“We’re not going to throw our hands ups,” said Horry County police Capt. John Harrelson. “We are still actively working those cases.”
Several high-profile cases left the area on edge and still lack arrests. The month was “challenging,” though officers continue to follow leads, Harrelson said. The noteworthy incidents included:
- Aug. 2 — The Horry County police bomb squad responded to Wagon Wheel Road for a suspicious package. That turned out to be an empty briefcase with trashed fire alarms underneath. The fire alarms started to beep as their batteries died.
- Aug. 6 — Horry County police piggybacked on a high-profile Myrtle Beach burglary spree in the Grand Dunes area. Police arrested Charles Everett Adams in connection to several break-ins. Horry police charged him with two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of breaking and entering an automobile and a count of malicious damage.
- Aug. 13 — Police and fire crews responded to Myrtle Beach State Park after a body was found ashore. The Horry County Coroner’s Office identified Robert Thomas Kiddy of Springfield, Virginia, 71, as the victim.
- Aug. 15 — A murder and armed robbery spree in Longs, Loris and North Carolina put the area on heightened alert. Police charged James Bellamy with several counts for his role in the incident. A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of two other suspects in the case.
- Aug 18 — Robert Ford Jr. and his son Robbie Ford were found dead in a home on Highway 19 outside the Conway area and their deaths were classified as homicides. Officers have not charged anyone in connection to the killings.
- Aug. 21 — Horry County police responded to a home on Adrian Highway where they found Terry Blye, 58, dead by homicide. No arrests have been made related to his death.
- Aug 22/23 — Calls started with a reported shooting of a car on Hemingway Chapel Road with a 7-year-old inside. By the time 24 hours passed, the case included a second shooting on the same road, a police chase and five people arrested in connection to the incidents.
- Aug. 31 — Horry County police responded to Silvermoon Court in the Conway area where they found a man dead in a driveway. Police said they identified the parties involved and there was no threat to the community in the aftermath. No one was charged in connection to the shooting.
The cases put a strain on the department in a couple of ways, Harrelson said. One is that many occurred after typical business hours, so investigators who are on-call had to report for duty.
For a murder case, the entire homicide investigative division, usually four or five detectives, is likely to respond, Harrelson said. Based on the investigators, the number of leads and other factors, some officers might stop their work on a particular incident. The agency also used investigators from other divisions to help on the higher-profile cases.
Residents have expressed concerns about the rash of serious crime, Harrelson said. Department officials work with the patrol precincts to add extra patrols in those areas, he said.
Patrol divisions also are stretched as they try to provide additional coverage in impacted areas. Horry County police called for other agencies — such as the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Horry County Sheriff’s Department and Aynor Police — to assist during the month, Harrelson said.
Dave Cox works at Hoyt’s Muffler Shop along Highway 905 near where a couple of murders occurred. He said most of his customers haven’t spoken of the spree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not on Cox’s mind.
“There’s always a concern when it’s so close,” he said.
Cox hasn’t made any security improvements at the shop during the most recent crime wave. He did install security cameras after a couple of break-ins over the winter, he said.
Amy Fletcher lives on Highway 19 near where Robert and Robbie Ford were found dead. She used words like “worried” and “concerned” to describe her feelings. It is a bit alarming that it happened so close, but Fletcher said she feels protected with the security system at her home.
She even joked there have been so many crimes nearby locals are used to the cops blocking off roads.
On Hemingway Chapel, Jamie Winns said she and her kids are cautious when they leave the house. They live feet from where the SUV was shot on Aug. 22.
“We make sure the door is locked,” Winns said.
Horry County Council Chair-Elect Johnny Gardner said he hasn’t received calls from concerned citizens about the string of crimes. Though, he noted that could be because locals know he doesn’t take office until January.
Gardner expressed confidence in the Horry County Police Department.
Many high-profile crimes occurred in Horry County Council’s District 7 and District 10. Neither councilmen Harold Phillips or Danny Hardee responded to calls from The Sun News.