Body found in Lake Marion was buried twice before in Sumter, officials say

Four arrested, one at large in shooting death of 31-year-old Sumter man

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 5/7/18

Four people have been charged and one remains at large in connection with the shooting death and multiple burials of a 31-year-old Sumter man whose body was found in Lake Marion in April.Stephen …

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Body found in Lake Marion was buried twice before in Sumter, officials say

Four arrested, one at large in shooting death of 31-year-old Sumter man

Posted

Four people have been charged and one remains at large in connection with the shooting death and multiple burials of a 31-year-old Sumter man whose body was found in Lake Marion in April.

Stephen Wayne Stinnette, 31, of Pinewood Road in Sumter, has been charged with murder and was arrested on Friday, May 4, in Richland County, Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said at a news conference at the department’s headquarters on Monday afternoon.

Dennis called the incident “one of the most profoundly senseless killings since I’ve been the sheriff in Sumter.”

Jerry Lamars Johnson, 31, of Pioneer Drive in Sumter, was reported missing on April 24. A fisherman in Orangeburg County found a body in the water at Lake Marion on April 25. Two days later, Dennis said, the body was identified as that of Johnson, and the death was ruled a homicide by Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker.

Johnson’s body was found with multiple gunshots, Dennis said.

“What was especially horrific was the fact that his body was buried twice and moved in Sumter County before being found in Lake Marion in Orangeburg County,” Dennis said. “To get to that location, the killers would have had to transport his body through three counties.”

Dennis said the investigation, which remains ongoing, indicates there were others present when Johnson was shot and that the body was moved from its first and second graves because one or more of the suspects thought someone revealed the location.

Three others — Kimberly McFaddin McLeod, 36, of Bay Blosson Avenue in Sumter, Andrew Thomas Scurry, 36, of U.S. 15 South in Sumter, and Lisa Avins, 57, of Pinewood Road in Sumter — have been charged with accessory after the fact.

Avins is Stinnette’s mother, Dennis confirmed.

All four are being held in Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center without bond until they appear in the next general court session, which is scheduled in Sumter for June 8. 

A fifth suspect, Anthony Dustin Dill, 32, of Bell Road in Mayesville, is on the run and also faces accessory after the fact charges, Dennis said.

Dill is thought to be armed and dangerous. He is described as 5 feet 10 inches and 140 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.

A motive for the supposed shooting, which is thought to have occurred in a wooded area in Sumter County, has not yet surfaced, Dennis said. Stinnette and Johnson did know each other.

Scurry, Stinnette and Dill have previous criminal charges, Dennis said.

No one involved in the incident is in a known gang, he said, and there is no indication it was a hate crime.

Additional charges or arrests are not being ruled out.

Third Judicial Circuit Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney III said charges his office will pursue will depend on the final investigation.

He thanked all the involved sheriff’s offices, which included those from Sumter, Clarendon, Orangeburg and Richland counties, for their work on the case.

“Most of the people don’t understand the amount of hours that goes into a case like this to make this family feel a little better about the loss of their loved one,” Finney said.

Five of those family members sat in the front row of the briefing room during the news conference on Monday.

Johnson’s uncle, Darron Brown, wore a T-shirt that had his nephew’s picture between the words “RIP Turk,” Johnson’s nickname.

“He was a good all-around person,” Brown said. “If you need someone to talk to, he was there for you.”

He said he was thankful for the investigators in the case who helped bring his family closure but that it does not take the shooting back.

“Once you lose life, that’s it. You don’t get it back.”

Brown said his nephew has two children, aged 5 and 8.

"They will be missing him. I know that, deeply. Right now, we’re just trying to keep them strong and hold them up,” he said.

The family held a service earlier Monday, he said.

“He was a good artist; he could draw real good,” Brown said. “And dance. He loved dancing … [I’ll miss his] smile and the life of the party. He kept the family going.”