Domestic violence blamed in killing of 70-year-old wife in Aiken
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Authorities on Thursday blamed domestic violence for the killing of a 70-year-old woman at her Aiken home.
Her husband, Richard Whitaker, 70, drove to the Aiken Department of Public Safety headquarters after the shooting Tuesday to tell authorities what had happened and to turn himself in, they said.
After speaking with him, officers and investigators were dispatched to 1404 Woodbine Road around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and found Ruth Ann Whitaker, 70, inside the home with a gunshot wound.
Officers arrested the husband and booked him into Aiken County jail on charges of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
On Thursday, the agency said its investigation “has revealed that the death was due to a domestic violence related homicide.”
The Aiken County Coroner’s Office says she was pronounced dead at the scene and will be autopsied in Newberry.
The shooting disrupted the calm in the well-known neighborhood filled with late-1980s homes near the Houndslake Country Club and golf course. As police lights flashed on the road lined with large, wooded lots, curious neighbors came out to ask what was going on.
On Wednesday, the situation was calm again outside the gray-sided contemporary home.
Just before noon, a tow truck dropped off a dark-colored Ford Flex – presumably the vehicle the husband drove to the police station. After it was unloaded in the driveway, the doors were visibly sealed with red “evidence” tape.
Neighbors said they didn’t see the couple much, but interactions with the husband were always very nice. They said they never would have expected the situation that unfolded Tuesday evening.
One person tells us they had no idea anything was wrong until there was a knock on her door.
“I was just out and about. I really had no idea. And we actually had some guys come and pick up a couch from us from Facebook Marketplace that we sold. And I didn’t even know that there were cops there until some guy was like, ‘man, there are a bunch of cops on your street right now.’ I was like, ‘what are you talking about’,” said Peyton Taylor, neighbor.
While some neighbors heard gunshots, she didn’t.
“Yesterday I was just out here, like all afternoon. I wanted to get some pressure washing done, and my boy was out here too. I had him in a little activity gym, so I’m assuming— I heard it was a gunshot. I guess I didn’t hear it because I was pressure washing, and the machine was super loud,” she said.
Taylor says this is not something her family would have suspected.
“The Whitaker family. My husband’s talked to them a couple of times, like when we’ve been out and about. And I think he’s like driven past and just talk to him about yard work and stuff. But he said he was like really nice,” she said.
Even with this happening, Taylor says it doesn’t change how she views the neighborhood.
“Neighbors have checked in with each other and made sure we’re all okay and just, like, feeling okay. It is a really good community here. It was just like a really weird circumstance,” she said.
The motive behind the murder is still under investigation. Some neighbors told us they believe the wife had advanced cancer and they wouldn’t be surprised if this was a crime of mercy, but that will all be for investigators to sort out.
The shooting death is among dozens that have swept the CSRA in the past year, claiming more than 80 lives since mid-April.
Authorities have blamed most of those crimes on gangs, and many of the victims and suspects have been young men.
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But Tuesday’s case doesn’t quite fit that same profile, more closely resembling the handful of domestic slayings, some of which have also involved seniors.
Among them, a 60-year-old woman was stabbed to death in January outside Harlem, and her 82-year-old husband was arrested after he called authorities.
And in May, a 65-year-old Trenton woman was strangled to death by her boyfriend, who then died of a heart attack while trying to bury her body in their yard.
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