Georgia Gay, Assistant Editor
One crime that has always managed to grasp the attention of readers in the news is murder.
People cannot seem to turn away from a good murder mystery and will flood the news stands to keep up with the latest drama. California has the most reported murders followed by Texas and Florida. Louisiana has the highest murder rate, 10.8 per 100,000 people. Therefore, when taking South Carolina into account, not much seems to occur.
However, S.C. has several juicy stories of murders that go as far back as 1820. Below is a list of murderers ranked from most intriguing.
1. Lavinia Fisher (1820)
This woman from Charleston, S.C. goes down in history as the first female serial killer in the United States. However, it is speculated that she never killed at all. The way she would have possibly killed her victims is by crushing their heads between her legs. Talk about a smashing death. Regardless, she was convicted and sentenced to hanging.
2. Donald Henry Gaskins (1953-1982)
Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins claimed to have killed between 100-110 victims. There is no way to determine if his claim is accurate but it made for a great autobiography called “Final Truth.” In the book, Gaskins stated that he has a special mind that gave him permission to kill. An associate of Gaskins tattled on him and informed the police that there were bodies on his property. Turns out, there were eight.
3. Todd Kohlhepp (2016)
This man has a dark past, starting at the age of 15. He was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl all while threatening to kill her siblings if she said anything. He has come to light recently in the media, being accused of murdering at least seven people. He also held a woman hostage by chaining her by the neck and shooting her boyfriend. The woman was recently found in Spartanburg.
4. Lee Roy Martin (1967-1968)
Lee Roy Martin, also know as “The Gaffney Strangler”, was imprisoned for life for the murder of four girls. Local residents reported seeing Martin in a wooded area where they happened to find the body of one of the girls. Though they had the evidence to give him the death penalty, there was a court trial error and they were not able to sentence him.
5. James Earl Reed (2013)
Not only did this man shoot his ex-girlfriend's parents five times each, he helped the police find the weapon used and the shell casings. No evidence was found and Reed diagnosed himself with “neurological impairment” because he had an IQ of 77. He was the last person to die in the electric chair in South Craolina.
6. Susan Smith (1995)
The woman who reported having her children kidnapped actually drowned her children by driving them into a lake and jumping out of the car at the last minute. She built an entire story and fooled the media into believing she was a poor, innocent mom. In actuality, she is a cold-blooded killer. She was sentenced to life for filicide or for murdering her two boys. She is still in prison.
7. Christopher Pittman (2001)
At the striping age of 12, this boy managed to murder both of his grandparents. Blaming it on the fact that he was taking Zoloft, he did not stop the court from sentencing him to 25 years. This child is an example of someone who had a troubled youth, fighting with depression and suicide. His grandparents tried to discipline him, but he did not take to the discipline well and shot both of his grandparents with the shotgun they taught him to use.
8. George Stinney (1944)
Only 14 years old, George Stinney was sentenced to death via the electric chair. He was accused of murder and convicted in less than 10 minutes. The jury knew he was innocent and sentenced him because they were racially biased. This clearly violated the 6th amendment and goes down as a tragic chain of events.
9. Reggie Gross (1989)
This famous heavyweight boxer with a record of 18-8 was capable of murdering three people over a game of cards. He had quite the anger problem, which may explain why he was able to fight fairly well. In a match against Mike Tyson, Gross lost in one round and did not take the loss well. The court sentenced him to three life sentences.
10. Joseph Carl Shaw (1977)
This man is known for being the first person to be put to death in South Carolina. This is something you typically don’t want to be known for. He raped and killed two women and killed one man. To make matters worse, he would return to his victims for necrophilia. However, he was not alone in his crimes. He had two teenage accomplices in Columbia, S.C.