Less than a week after a triple murder in Marshville, the Union County sheriff on Thursday described the arrest of a suspect a next-door neighbor and cousin of one victim and the search for a motive.
Randall Hank Morrison, 24, was arrested without incident Wednesday night and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
The three victims were each killed with both a gun and knife, Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in a press conference Thursday.
Each person was killed in the same fashion, he said. Its a pretty violent crime. Were not going to talk about the gruesomeness.
Morrison is being held without bail in the Union County jail. Hell be with us in jail till we bring this to the courts, the sheriff said.
Morrison is charged in the deaths Saturday of Jerry Wayne Marsh, 61; Ronnie Dale Overcash, 46; and Crystal Dawn Hicks, 38, all of Marshville. The men were found inside the home on Landsford Road where Overcash lived, authorities said. Hicks body was found in the woods behind the house.
Cathey said that there was a known rift between some of the people involved.
There has been animosity between the Overcashes and Morrisons, he said.
Neighbor Wanda Jenkins said Morrison and Overcash ended their friendship when Morrisons dog killed Overcashs cat. Thats what they fell out over, Jenkins said. A cat! I couldnt believe this.
It is not clear what Morrisons relationship with Hicks was like. She was his cousin.
Neighbors said Overcash and Hicks were dating, and she had just moved into his home. Marsh, a chicken farmer who lived next door, was Overcashs boss, neighbors said.
Morrison apparently told his mother hed found Hicks body, Cathey said. His mother called 911, and Morrison later told officers he discovered the murders early Saturday morning when he was out feeding his animals.
The scheme he started with didnt work, the sheriff said. On the first day of this, we believed what he said, until evidence indicated differently.
Cathey didnt go into the specifics of the evidence. We feel very confident that we have tied enough evidence to him, he said.
Robbery suspected as factor
The killings do not appear to be drug-related, but robbery was a factor, the sheriff said.
The arrest reports say Morrison used a knife to rob Hicks of two cellphones, used a shotgun to rob Overcash of two display cases, their contents and a knife, and used a gun to rob Marsh of a cellphone.
This case has ignited probably one of the biggest investigations in Union County history, Cathey said.
The investigation has involved several agencies, including the State Bureau of Investigation, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and the Union County District Attorneys Office.
Jenkins, the neighbor, said she is shocked by the killings.
We never thought anything like this would happen, she said.
Jenkins said that Morrison lived with his wife and two children and that the Department of Social Services took custody of the children after the killings. Brett Vines, a spokesman for Union County, said DSS is aware of the Morrison case but would not confirm the custody situation.
Morrison worked for Carolina Tree Care, according to his arrest reports.
Morrisons criminal history
Court records show that Morrisons criminal history includes a misdemeanor marijuana conviction and traffic-related violations, some of which were later dismissed.
In 2010, he was charged with simple assault in Caldwell County, but the charge was dismissed.
He also has charges pending against him. Hes scheduled to appear in Anson County court next month to face DWI and open container charges. Hes also scheduled to appear in Union County court next month for a driving with a revoked license charge, as well as a separate DWI charge. Staff researcher Maria David contributed.