Police blotter for March 9th-15th

10 mins read

Three people are charged with murder

John Priester
John Priester
Brian Walls
Brian Walls
Courtney Brock
Courtney Brock

On Dec. 7, 2016, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to a house fire at 126 Falls Road in Burton. 

Inside, they discovered the body of 56-year-old Teresa Seigler.

Following a forensic autopsy performed at the Medical University of South Carolina, Seigler’s cause of death remained pending additional medical studies. 

Within days of the incident, sheriff’s office investigators identified John Priester, 25, as a suspect in the intentional setting of the house fire. 

On Dec. 9, Priester was arrested on arson charges and was taken to the Beaufort County Detention Center. 

Also early in the investigation, two juveniles were implicated in setting the Falls Road house fire along with Priester. Their cases were sent to the Beaufort County Family Court on charges of arson.

While awaiting Seigler’s cause and manner of death, forensic evidence collected at the scene of the fire was submitted to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Services Laboratory and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Forensic Laboratory for examination. 

According to a release, the laboratories were able to forensically link, Priester, Brian Walls, 35, and Courtney Brock, 22, with evidence from the scene. 

In mid-February, forensic pathologists from MUSC reported Seigler died as a result of homicidal violence. Armed with the new information on Seigler’s cause and manner of death and links through forensic evidence, sheriff’s office investigators met with a Beaufort County magistrate and obtained warrants for Priester, Walls and Brock for murder.

Priester remains in jail since the December arson charge, as had Walls on unrelated charges stemming from a Beaufort Police Department investigation. They were both served with the murder warrants at the Detention Center. 

Also, sheriff’s office investigators arrested Courtney Brock at a Reeds Road home on Lady’s Island. She was served with the arrest warrant for murder and transported to the Detention Center without incident. The investigation remains active and additional criminal charges are possible.

Anyone with information on this investigation is urged to contact Cpl. Jason Malphrus at 843-255-3426 or CrimeStoppers 1-888-CrimeSC to remain anonymous and for possible reward.

Burton yard debris fire threatens home

Just before 3 p.m. on Feb. 27, Burton firefighters were dispatched to a yard debris fire threatening a home on Bruce K Smalls in the Gray’s Hill area of Beaufort County. 

Firefighters arrived to find a fire spreading within 15 feet of a residence. The fire involved a fallen tree, yard debris, brush and trash. No one was home at the time. 

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and the home was not damaged.

It was the second yard debris fire in three days that got out of control and threatened nearby structures. 

At about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25, Burton firefighters responded to another yard debris fire on Detour Road that got out of control and began igniting a nearby vacant mobile home.

Burton firefighters stress the importance of checking local burn ordnances before burning yard debris. It is unlawful to burn trash of any kind. 

Failure to follow burn ordinances can result in fines or other legal action. 

Guide helps warn seniors about scams

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is partnering with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging to distribute SCDCA’s scam guide, “Ditch the Pitch,” to an estimated 9,000 consumers statewide who are served by the Office on Aging’s home delivered meal program.

 This outreach is a collective effort to educate elderly consumers, a demographic often exploited by fraudsters. 

“Ditch the Pitch” addresses common scams, how to avoid them and what to do if a consumer does reveal sensitive information to a scammer.  

“Scammers are more active and more successful than ever, said Carri Grube Lybarker, SCDCA administrator. “We appreciate the assistance provided by the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging in arming South Carolinians with the tools they need to beware of fraudsters’ schemes and warn their friends and family.”

For more information about avoiding identity theft and fraud, or to access a digital copy of “Ditch the Pitch,” visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click REPORT IDENTITY THEFT or REPORT A SCAM. To request a hard copy of the brochure, call 844-835-5322.

Daley, Bekemeyer earn kudos from district

Micheal Daley
Micheal Daley

The Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District recently hosted it annual awards banquet. It is at this banquet that the officer and firefighter of the year are announced. 

Votes from the entire department are tallied and Lt. Jonathon Bekemeyer received the Officer of the Year award. 

Bekemeyer was promoted to the lieutenant position a little less than two years ago and “has gone above and beyond the call of duty. …. Not only is he a shift officer but he manages to assist with our reporting software and is our quarter master. He is extremely professional and serves our department and the community with honor,” according to a release.

Firefighter Micheal Daley was named the Firefighter of the Year award.

“Daley demonstrates an outstanding work ethic and an unwavering positive attitude towards both his fellow firefighters and the citizens of our community. He is well liked by his coworkers and is willing to lend a helping hand both on and off of the job,” according to the release. “It is a pleasure working with these men and we are honored to have them.”

Citizen’s Police Academy enrollment is open

Have you ever wanted to know what is it like being a law enforcement officer?

Have you ever wondered if what you see on CSI is real?

Have you ever wanted to know what your tax dollars were spent on in relation to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office?

Maybe you just want to learn more strategies in protecting yourself, family and property.

If you answered yes to any of these questions you may want to attend the Citizen’s Police Academy. 

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is inviting all citizens who live or work in Beaufort County and are at least 18 years old, to attend its Citizen’s Police Academy. 

Since 2002, the sheriff’s office has hosted 39 sessions of the CPA and have partnered with over 2,000 dedicated citizens.

The 10-week sessions in Beaufort will be held on Tuesdays starting on March 14, at the Law Enforcement Center at 2001 Duke St.

Classes run from 6-9 p.m.

The sheriff’s office provides each member with an in-depth digital manual and refreshments. Some of the topics covered by CPA instructors include enforcement, criminal investigations, civil process, warrants, juvenile services, training, homeland security, drug enforcement, traffic enforcement, special teams, gangs, budget process and more.

Applications for the Citizen’s Police Academy are available at the sheriff’s office or on its website at www.bsco.net.

Applications can be emailed to mjennings@bcgov.net, faxed to 843-255-9457 or mailed to P.O. Box 1758, Beaufort, SC 29901. 

Seating is limited, so apply as soon as possible. 

For questions or comments, contact MSgt. Mike Jennings at 843)-255-3287 or mjennings@bcgov.net.

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