From Friday Sheriff’s Office News Conference
By Stan Welch
The litany of charges continues to grow against a Williamston man and a Greenville woman accused of being involved in the triple homicide shooting in Pelzer Wednesday.
At a press conference today (Friday) afternoon, Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper enumerated a total of seventeen charges filed against Jared Michael Williams, WM, 32, of McAlister Road in Williamston, and his reported girlfriend Hope Kristian Phillips. WF, 19, of Blue Forest Lane in Greenville.
Williams, charged with three counts of murder as well as one count of attempted murder, led a bevy of assorted law enforcement officers on a high speed chase from Pelzer to Piedmont Wednesday afternoon, before crashing the stolen vehicle he was driving into a house on Highway 86 inside the Piedmont town limits.
Williams is charged with the murders, by multiple gunshots, of Victor Vandegrift, Hank Eaton, and the murder of Wanda Anderson by a single gunshot. All three murders, as well as the attempted murder of Tara Hendricks, who escaped and summoned police from a nearby home, occurred at 104 Law Street in Pelzer.
Phillips, charged with three counts of accessory after the fact of murder, was charged with the death of Wanda Anderson because she in effect lured her into the house where she was shot. Phillips, along with Williams, then fled the Pelzer scene in Anderson’s truck, for which both were charged with grand larceny.
Williams subsequently attempted to car jack another vehicle from Janet Walker, WF, 56, at 112 Stephens Circle, but was unsuccessful. He eventually came upon Randy Cape at 707 Old Williamston Road, along with other employees of R.L. Tower Construction Company. They had come outside to see what all the sirens and noise were about when Williams approached, pointed a gun and demanded the keys to a company truck nearby. Williams then fled in the truck, with county deputies in pursuit.
Phillips had gotten out of the truck she and Williams originally fled in, and was apprehended alongside the road. She was taken into custody before Williams was apprehended. According to warrants provided by the ACSO public information office, Phillips provided a video and audio statement about the day’s events, as well as identifying Williams.
Williams was also charged with several counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. The gun used was a Smith and Wesson nine millimeter pistol. He also faces three charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, after firing at three different deputies during their attempts to apprehend him. He faces a charge of failure to stop for a blue light also.
Sheriff Skipper had no insight to offer as to motive at this time. The surviving witness Tara Hendricks said it began as an argument, but Skipper declined to provide any details. He did clarify that despite preliminary reports, there was no indication that any of the parties were biologically related. He also clarified that early reports that a fatal accident which occurred a day earlier might somehow have been related have proven groundless to this point.
Assistant 10th Circuit Solicitor Rame Campbell said that no determination of a motive has been reached, but added that drugs as the source of the violence seems unfounded. Deputy Coroner Don McCown said that toxicology from the victims’ autopsies might or might not reflect the presence of drugs in their bodies, but that drugs as a motive or major cause seems unlikely.
Williams was due to be arraigned late Friday afternoon. Hendricks, the surviving victim, was released from the hospital Friday and is expected to recover.
Photo above – Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sheila Cole, Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper, Deputy Solicitor Rame Campbell and County Deputy Coroner Don McCown prepare for a press conference held Friday afternoon in which details of the shooting in Pelzer were discussed.