Body identified; man charged with murder

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January 23, 2008

AIKEN, S.C.---A Monetta man has been formally charged with the December 2007 murder of a Lexington County man.

17-year-old Frankie Gantt of Monetta is charged with kidnapping and murder.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office found 20-year-old Jeremy Leaphart's body under a pile of debris in front of an abandoned house on Dozier Road in Lexington County yesterday.

Aiken County investigators say Gantt took Leaphart to an abandoned building on Hutto Pond Road and shot him in the head, back, and hip with a 20 gauge shotgun. Then they say Gantt and several others hid the body in the debris.

That same day, the Lexington County Sheriff's Office received a complaint about Leaphart's disappearance.

“We believe the victim was given several assault rifles for safekeeping, but they were stolen,” said Sheriff Hunt. “When the victim could not come up with either the guns or money to pay for them, he was killed.”

The Lexington County Sheriff’s Office, Saluda County Sheriff’s Office, Lexington County Coroner’s Office, Batesburg Police Department and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are participating in the probe.

Gantt is being held without bond at the Aiken County Detention Center. Aiken County expects to make more arrests.

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