Body of man dead in fire found seven days later

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

Salley native Rodriguez Abney was killed June 6 in a late-night fire...but it wasn't until June 14--seven days later--that his body was discovered.

Abney was killed when his uncle's Maple Street home shot up in flames. His uncle, 90-year-old Eddie Mays, was rescued.

But Abney wasn't found until seven days later.

Abney's body was found underneath a collapsed roof, brick and lots of other debris. That's most likely why he's been passed over time and time again.

"The way that fire was so spread throughout that house... no, couldn't have helped him," says family friend Tony Davis.

"There was another person who lived there but from my understanding at the time, he was out of town," says SVFD fire chief Gene Fogle.

Fire Chief Fogle says he searched the site three separate times, but it wasn't until a forensic specialist came in that Abney's body was finally discovered.

"Some of the debris we had moved around him and some we had actually put on top of him going through the search," Chief Fogle says.

Investigators blame the amount of debris for not having found Abney's body earlier. But family members say that's a poor excuse.

"You got to re-check it," says Abney's cousin Ned Milhous. "It's just like leaving a fire when it ain't all the way completely out. It's the same way about a life. You go to back and re-check it."

"Keep in mind this was a brick home, and the roof collapsed when the fire occurred, and this individual was buried under a good bit of debris," says Lt. Michael Frank of the Aiken County Sheriff's Department.

Although witnesses agree Abney would have been difficult to reach, family and friends have had a tough week, not knowing for sure whether he was dead or alive.

The Salley Police Department is the lead agency in this investigation, and neither it nor the fire department has determined a cause of the fire.

They say it could have been electrical, or it may have been caused by some flammable items in the house.

Abney's death is the first death within Salley's city limits in at least ten years.


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