Man arrested in Bamberg murders; drugs allegedly involved

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

A Bamberg man originally wanted for questioning in two murders is in custody.

Officials in Bamberg say they plan to charge Charlie Beard with the murders shortly.

It's a murder mystery that comes to an end four days later and 58 miles away, after a short chase Tuesday night in Colleton County near Walterboro South Carolina.

Officers found Charlie Beard in the victims' car.

Four days after two elderly women were brutally murdered, 40-year-old Charlie Beard is in custody.

Family members say Beard is a distant cousin to the two women he is accused of killing.

"He did some yard work for her last week," says Catherine Barnwell.

Barnwell says she and her husband went to check on her mother-in law, 89-year-old Netha Barnwell, and Netha's sister, 75-year-old Louise Smith, when she hadn't heard from them.

"I went in, I said 'Mom, Mom', and then I saw them..."

Bamberg County officials say Charlie Beard was high on cocaine when he killed the two elderly women and will be charged with two counts of murder.

"He hit them in the head, several times in the head...with the same crowbar," said Bamberg County Sheriff Ed Darnell.

"I was the one that found them," Barnwell said. "I can't get it out of my head."

An alert deputy spotted Beard driving Louise Smith's 1994 Camry in Colleton County four days after the murders.

Beard led officers on a 10-mile chase.

It all came to a halt with stop sticks...but even then deputies say Beard tried to set fire to the car.

"When the vehicle ran through the stop sign and ran over the tire deflation devices, the vehicle came to a stop," said Colleton County Chief Deputy Ted Stanfield.

Charlie Beard is an ex-convict who was released from prison just two months ago.

Now he's facing traffic charges in Colleton County, including possession of a stolen car and driving under a suspended license.

In Bamberg County, two murder warrants are being prepared.

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