The man whom Kershaw and Chesterfield County authorities are charging with murder, kidnapping and rape in the brutal beating death of a 30-year-old woman likely followed another woman earlier that day, officials said Wednesday.
Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker confirmed the incident and said his deputies are gathering more information. He said he didn’t have enough details yet to elaborate.
Also Wednesday, Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said he has talked with an assistant prosecutor in the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office about possibly seeking the death penalty against the 23-year-old suspect, Nickolas Jermaine Miller of Jefferson. But a spokeswoman for Solicitor Dan Johnson said no final decision has been made.
Miller is charged in Monday’s slaying of Beverly Hope Melton of Kershaw. The victim was abducted from her car in broad daylight, sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a baseball bat.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The suspect later confessed after leading authorities to her body later that night in a remote field in Kershaw County, officials said. It appears the two did not know each other.
Miller remained in the Kershaw County jail Wednesday.
The suspect and Melton were at the same convenience store around noon Monday on Main Street in Jefferson, a small Chesterfield County town, said Sheriff Parker.
Earlier reports said Miller was harassing Melton, but surveillance tapes didn’t show the two having words, Parker said Wednesday.
Parker also gave more details about the sequence of events that led to Miller’s arrest.
Monday was Melton’s day off from the convenience store where she worked in the town of McBee. Late that morning, Melton was driving from her home in the town of Kershaw to her grandmother’s house in the White Oak community of Chesterfield County, about 13 miles northeast of Jefferson.
Around noon, Melton stopped at Jack’s convenience store in Jefferson to get gas.
Shortly afterwards — an exact time wasn’t available — Miller called her grandmother, saying she was being followed by a man in a car and was afraid. The phone conversation ended abruptly.
Alarmed, her grandmother told family members, and they got into cars to look for Melton. They found her empty Chrysler PT cruiser on the side of the road, about three miles from her grandmother’s house.
About 1:15 p.m., Melton’s grandmother called Chesterfield deputies to tell them about the empty car. She also told them that Melton usually stopped at Jack’s to gas up.
A deputy who went to Jack’s and checked surveillance tapes recognized Miller. “He was not a suspect at that time,” Parker said. “We thought he might have some information about Melton.”
A deputy located Miller, who agreed to go to Jefferson Town Hall for an interview. After being unwilling to say much for about an hour, Miller then agreed to talk with Parker.
After 5 p.m. — hours after the victim was abducted — Miller told the sheriff what happened, Parker said. He then led authorities to the body. Miller gave videotaped and written confessions after the body was found, Parker said.
Chesterfield County authorities called in Kershaw deputies because that is where the body was and where officers believe the killing took place.
It might not have been easy to prove murder once the body had been left outside for a long time, Parker said.
“That’s coyote country,” Parker said. “If he hadn’t led us to the body, it could have been days — weeks — before we found it.”
The apparent random killing has residents on edge.
Matthews posted on the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Facebook page Tuesday — the day the killing was announced — information about a free concealed weapons permit class to be offered by two detectives.
“The class filled in about seven minutes,” Matthews said.