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S.C. sex offender targeted in killings

By Alan Blinder
New York Times

When Charles Parker registered as a sex offender in Jonesville, S.C., he became a prospect on another man’s kill list.

Parker, 59, died last week at his home, shot in the neck and chest and then stabbed. His wife also was shot and stabbed.

Sheriff’s officials believe the double murder in Jonesville – a town of about 900 residents 75 miles southwest of Charlotte – was not the byproduct of a botched drug deal or a home invasion. Rather, they suspect that Parker’s death was intended as the opening phase of a man’s quest to purge sex offenders from Union County, S.C.

“He went through our sex offender registry,” said Sheriff David Taylor, “and individually picked out targets.”

After the suspect, Jeremy Moody, 30, was arrested Wednesday, he acknowledged to the authorities that he had planned to kill again Thursday. And he said he had explained to Parker why he had been targeted.

“I’m not here to rob you,” investigators say Moody told Parker. “I’m here to kill you because you’re a child molester.”

Parker had been convicted of sex offenses but not child molesting.

The killings have shaken Union County, the site of the well-known 1994 killings of two children by their mother, Susan Smith. It is otherwise a place largely without serious crime.

“You hate hearing anything like that,” said Grady Carson, an employee at a hardware store where the Parkers shopped. “We’ve all done something in our past, and nobody wants someone to show up with a gun and play God.”

Moody, a resident of nearby Lockhart, S.C., had long been a subject of monitoring by law enforcement officials, who followed his postings on social media websites before losing track of his online presence about a year ago.

Taylor declined to elaborate on what specifically prompted his agency’s concerns about Moody, who has a criminal record and the word “skinhead” tattooed across his neck.

“We’ve never thought of him as possibly being a serial killer, but he is someone who we have been watching for the last several years,” Taylor said. “We’re in the South, and it isn’t often you see people running around here with ‘skinhead’ tattooed under their neck.”

Whether Moody has formal ties to white supremacist groups remains a focus of the investigation. Both the Parkers were white.

The authorities have not ruled out the possibility that Moody played a role in other crimes, and investigators have asked officials in neighboring counties to review whether their files contain any unsolved homicides in which the victims were sex offenders.

Moody and his wife, Christine, have both been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the Jonesville killings, although her role appears to have been limited.

“I don’t know if she originally knew that was what they were going there for, but she went in the house behind him while he had a gun in his hand,” Taylor said. “She knew they weren’t there for lunch.”

Jack Levin, a criminologist who is co-director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University, said it was likely that Moody possessed a common trait among killers.

“Serial killers often attempt to justify their killing sprees, and they usually do it by dehumanizing their victims,” Levin said.

But the case in South Carolina is otherwise odd, he said: “It’s very unusual that someone would set out to kill large numbers of sex offenders.”

Moody is not the first person accused of targeting sex offenders. As recently as last month, a California jury convicted a 36-year-old man of killing a neighbor who was a sex offender, and a Washington state man was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison for a pair of similar killings.

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