Police blotter for July 7th-13th

8 mins read
Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Services Laboratory Director Lt. Renita Berry has been promoted to colonel in the South Carolina Army National Guard. Berry is now the brigade commander of the 218th Regiment (Leadership) and oversees five battalions. The regiment's primary mission is to train, educate and develop soldiers in areas of leadership within their assigned fields.
Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Services Laboratory Director Lt. Renita Berry has been promoted to colonel in the South Carolina Army National Guard. Berry is now the brigade commander of the 218th Regiment (Leadership) and oversees five battalions. The regiment’s primary mission is to train, educate and develop soldiers in areas of leadership within their assigned fields.

Traffic stop in Bluffton leads to drug charges

A recent traffic stop in Bluffton led to the driver being charged with heroin trafficking.

According to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report, deputies pulled a Cadillac over at about 9 p.m. June 26 after it was rapidly accelerating and swerving on U.S. 278 near Belfair.

Bobby Nelson III
Bobby Nelson III

Deputies ran a search on the driver, Bobby Nelson III, 26, of Ridgeland, who was the only person in the car. The report states that there was a bench warrant on him. Nelson III was arrested for the outstanding warrant and reckless driving.

“Based on his slowed speech and overall physical appearance, deputies then became suspicious Nelson III may have used and be in the possession of illegal drugs,” the report states.

When he was questioned about drugs in the car, he was “evasive in his response,” according to the report.

A drug-sniffing dog was brought to the scene and, with its help, deputies found heroin hidden in a sock, a small amount of suspected marijuana and a digital scale, the report states.

In addition to the bench warrant and reckless driving, Nelson III was charged with trafficking heroin and simple possession of marijuana.

The Cadillac was towed following his arrest and Nelson III was transported to the Beaufort County Detention Center. He is being held in the jail on a $42,445 bond.

Anyone with additional information on illegal drug or other criminal activities of Nelson III is encouraged to contact CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC.

Public’s help needed in solving cold case

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help with a cold case from 1987.

On June 17 of that year, Paul Baker, 3, was reported missing from his Shell Point home by his stepmother, Susan Baker. She told police that the toddler must have walked out when she was taking a nap.

According to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report, she allegedly was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of the boy’s disappearance.

“(Susan) Baker’s story was highly suspicious and through investigation it was learned Paul Baker and his 6-year-old sister were physically abused by her on a regular basis,” according to the report.

Susan Baker was charged with assault on Paul Baker’s 6-year-old sister and convicted.

There have been reports on the whereabouts of Paul Baker over the years, but he was never found.

Susan Baker and James Baker, the biological father of Paul Baker, eventually moved to Chipley, Fla. In 2000, a cold case investigation led to charges against both Susan and James Baker in relation to their alleged neglect in the disappearance of Paul Baker. They were extradited to Beaufort County, where the charges were ultimately dismissed. They then went back to Chipley.

In 2009, a 7-month-old infant was abducted and Susan Baker was again named as the suspect. The infant was found alive and well five days later, having been hidden in a box under a bed by Susan Baker. She was charged in connection with the infant’s abduction.

She remains the person of interest in the disappearance of Paul Baker.

His DNA is stored in the National Missing Persons DNA database.

Anyone with information on the Paul Baker case is asked to contact Capt. Bob Bromage at 843-255- 3402, 843-816-8013 or robertb@bcgov.net. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC (274-6372).

Report: Illegal steroids found in storage unit

After a months-long investigation into the alleged distribution of illegal drugs by Jesse Baekelandt, 40, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigators got a search warrant for his storage unit at Uncle Bob’s Storage in Bluffton.

Jesse Baekelandt
Jesse Baekelandt

A sheriff’s office report states that investigators found over 10,000 pills and 92 vials containing anabolic steroids.

Immediately following the search, investigators went to look for Baekelandt. They spotted him driving on Pin Oak Street near his home in Bluffton and pulled him over.

Baekelandt was taken into custody at the traffic stop. During the subsequent search of Baekelandt’s vehicle, investigators said they found about 6 pounds of marijuana packaged in bags.

Evidence gathered during the initial search warrant and Baekelandt’s arrest then led investigators to obtain a search warrant for his Pin Oak Street residence and another storage unit, this one located at Extra Space Storage in Bluffton.

During the search of the second storage unit the storage unit, investigators allegedly found an additional 3 pounds of marijuana packaged in bags. At Baekelandt’s home, investigators also allegedly found illegal drug paraphernalia.

Baekelandt was charged with sale and distribution of marijuana (total weight of over 9 pounds packaged in 118 bags) and possession of a controlled substance (Schedule III/anabolic steroid).

He was brought to the Beaufort County Detention Center and his bond was set at $30,000. He posted that bond and was released.

Man shot in leg on St. Helena Island

A man was shot in the leg on St. Helena Island on July 2, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report.

At about 7:22 p.m., deputies went to 155 Dulamo Road and found a man who was suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg.

The victim said he was in the area of Levant Byas Road to drop off a family member when someone shot multiple times into his vehicle, with one shot hitting his leg. No one else was injured during the incident.

The victim was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for treatment and the incident remains under investigation.

Anyone with information can call 843-524-2777 or CrimeStoppers 1-888-CrimeSC.

Sheriff’s Explorer Program seeking participants 

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is seeking participants between 14 and 21 years old for its Explorer Program.

Program benefits include opportunities to ride along with patrol officers, education and hands-on training for those interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.

The group meets bi-weekly from 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays.

For more information, call Kiera Morris at 843-255-3316.

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