An Horry County couple will spend the rest of their lives in prison for killing their grandparents.
A jury — eight men and four women — convicted Jordan Hodge and Kenneth Carlisle of murder on Thursday. The two killed 45-year-old William “Chet” Clemons and his 64-year-old wife, Linda McAllister. The jury reached its verdict after three days of trial in Horry County court.
McAllister was Hodge’s grandmother and Clemons was her step-grandfather.
“Our lives have never been the same for over two years,” Dara Hodge, Jordan’s mother, told Judge Craig Brown following the verdict. “I pray for the maximum sentence.”
Clemons and McAllister were reported missing from their Conway home after they were last seen on July 3, 2017. Fourteen days later, their remains were discovered near the Bucksville boat landing in an area where the couple once lived.
“Timing is everything,” assistant solicitor Seth Oskin said during his closing argument. “They didn’t plan on getting caught. This is a story of motive, means and opportunity, and it’s a story of greed, lies and equal guilt.”
McAllister’s family members, who have been present during court proceedings, were crying and holding each other closely following the jury’s announcement following 90 minutes of deliberation. Carlisle showed no reaction to the verdict, while Hodge was wiping away tears.
Members of the McAllister family, including Dara Hodge, lined up following the verdict requesting Brown sentence the defendants with the harshest penalty, while a teary-eyed Jordan Hodge pleaded for mercy. Carlisle chose not to speak, while his mother begged for mercy.
Brown sentenced the couple to life in prison, alluding that drugs played a part in their crime.
“It absolutely destroys people’s lives,” Brown said. “This is very difficult.”
During the trial, the defense argued there was no evidence proving that Hodge or Carlisle killed the victims, noting that the gun used was never found. With the prosecution pressing the murders were committed out of greed, Ralph Wilson Jr., Hodge’s attorney, asserted that spending money isn’t murder.
“The state has yet to present any evidence putting Jordan Hodge with her grandparents prior to (July) 4,” Wilson said. “There is no evidence they were together at any point in time.”
Evidence presented by the prosecution during testimony placed the defendants at the scene where the victims’ decomposing bodies were discovered on July 15. Further evidence had blood matching the victims’ along the interior of McAllister’s 2011 Blue Dodge Ram, which was in the defendant’s possession, along with two .25 caliber gun casings in the truck.
A witness testified on Wednesday that he sold Hodge and Carlisle a .25 caliber gun in May, with Cynthia Anna Schandl, a forensic pathologist, confirming in her autopsy report that both victims were shot in the head.
Both Hodge and Carlisle refused to testify on Thursday.
Prior to finding the victims’ remains, police were investigating a missing persons case.
The victims’ family and friends testified Tuesday they last spoke to McAllister on July 3. They said it was unusual for her to miss work and not return phone calls or texts.
So, when she and Clemons vanished, leaving their four dogs unattended and phone calls unanswered for several days, it sparked suspicion among her family and friends, despite Hodge reportedly informing them that McAllister and Clemons had gone out of town to Ohio on a family emergency.
Hodge informed family and friends that her grandparents left her in charge of their house, the dogs and their Dodge Ram. But visits made by family and friends days later revealed dog feces and urine throughout the house, the lights and television on and the victims’ wedding photo laying face down in the bedroom.
McAllister’s son, who filed a missing persons report on July 13, had pressed Hodge for any information on his mother’s whereabouts, but came up empty-handed.
Instead, during that time, Hodge and Carlisle used McAllister’s debit card to withdraw hundreds from her BB&T Bank account and rack up $11,000 at a Conway Walmart from July 4 to July 12, according to receipts and bank statements presented during testimony.
BB&T Bank security showed the couple at four different area BB&T Banks after July 4, with Walmart footage showing the couple walking together upon several visits.
An investigation of Hodge’s and Carlisle’s mobile home in Aynor revealed a small two-shot derringer gun and a Conway National Bank bag holding McAllister’s debit card and car keys stashed in the couple’s closet. Several items within the home also appeared to be newly purchased merchandise that mirrored the Walmart receipts.
Police said the victims’ bodies were highly decomposed when they were found in a wooded area in the Browns Chapel Avenue area.
“They acted in concert,” Oskin said. “They pre-meditated this thing from the get go.”
An earlier version of this story inadvertently misquoted the assistant solicitor’s closing statements.