“Death Investigation Turned Over To State Authorities”

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Turns Investigation of Death at local Youth Camp over to State Authorities 

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has completed the initial inquiry and investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic accident which claimed the life of 16 year old Olivia Grimes on Monday, July 13, 2015.

As previously released following the incident, Miss Grimes, a resident from Florida, was a participant involved in an outdoor event called the “Freebird” while attending a weeklong excursion at Carolina Point – Young Life Camp located at 4000 Glady Fork Rd in Brevard, North Carolina.

The remote area located on Sassafras Mountain is divided by the North and South Carolina state line with portions of the approximate 350 acre facility falling on both sides of the state boundary.

The investigation by the Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that no signs of foul play or criminal intent played a role in the death of Miss Grimes.  Witness interviews and the examination of all evidence collected at the scene and the autopsy have confirmed the following facts:

  • No indications of a mechanical or structural failure of the swing, equipment or safety gear have been detected
  • The victim’s harness was not attached to the apparatus when the swing was retracted from the passenger loading platform upon deployment of the swing
  • No evidence or information has been discovered that would indicate that the victim contributed to her own death

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, three representatives from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation accompanied members from the Sheriff’s Office investigative team to the accident site for evaluation.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office was officially informed that the incident fell under South Carolina state jurisdiction after a review of state statutes and their application to the existing rides and courses to include the pendulum swing at the camp.

The Sheriff’s Office, having now completed the initial criminal inquiry into the victim’s death, has turned all information over to state authorities as the investigation will proceed under their jurisdiction.

Any evidence collected by the Sheriff’s Office will be retained and secured for the state pending the outcome of their investigation.

Further inquiries should be directed to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in Columbia, SC.



“Update On Homicide Investigation”

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Turns Homicide Investigation over to Solicitor for Review 

Over the past fourteen hours, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has continued to investigate the circumstances of the deadly shooting which occurred at #237 Watts Rd. in Liberty.

As previously released earlier this morning, the Sheriff’s Office has now verified that three adult men in addition to the deceased were present at the scene when the shooting occurred.  Three of the men lived at the residence and the fourth man was an invited guest.

The Sheriff’s Office responded to the location approximately forty-five minutes prior to the shooting to investigate a report of a disturbance.  Deputies made contact with three of the four men and left the scene after determining that no crime had occurred.

A second verbal dispute erupted after the Deputies left and a physical confrontation between one of the residents and the deceased (guest) broke out on the back porch of the home.

Multiple shots were fired from a handgun by one of the remaining residents from inside the home in the direction of the two fighting men.  One of the men was struck with at least one round and died at the scene.

A 9mm handgun was later recovered from the residence by Forensics personnel.


No charges have been filed at this stage of the investigation; however, Sheriff’s Detectives met with representatives from the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office this morning.

The investigation is still on-going pending the conclusion of a full legal review by the Solicitor’s Office.

This case is still an active homicide investigation and any additional information will only be disseminated in a simultaneous manner to all media outlets as the investigation progresses or final determination is made concerning prosecution.

Inquiries concerning the identity of the victim should be directed to the Pickens County Coroner’s Office.


“Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Investigates Homicide”

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Investigates Homicide Stemming from a Shooting in the Liberty Community 

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office received reports through the 911 Center of a shooting that had just occurred at a residence located at #237 Watts Rd in Liberty.

Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the residence at approximately 11:45pm on Wednesday, July 15th and arrived on the scene within three minutes.  An adult male was found deceased on the back porch with visible injuries consistent of at least one gunshot.

The investigation is still in the preliminary stages but initial information has confirmed that there were three other adult males at the home in addition to the deceased when the incident occurred.

An argument between the four men escalated to a physical confrontation when at least one shot was discharged in the direction of the deceased.

One of the three surviving men was transported to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries believed to have been sustained during a physical confrontation with one of the individuals.

The Sheriff’s Office has identified and located all parties involved and does not have any reason to believe that there is any additional threat to the community.

The Sheriff’s Office has not taken anyone into custody during the early stages of the investigation as Sheriff’s Detectives continue to conduct interviews and process the scene for evidence.

Inquiries concerning the identity of the deceased should be directed to the Pickens County Coroner’s Office later today.  An autopsy of the deceased will be conducted to determine the cause and manner of death.

No additional information is available for release until further investigation can be completed.




“Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Request Outside Investigation”

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Requests outside Investigation following Reports of Detention Officer Selling Contraband to Inmates 

During the month of June, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office received information that a Pickens County Detention Officer was smuggling various types of illegal contraband into the Detention Facility and selling the items for personal gain.

The information forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office contained activity that was potentially criminal in nature and if through an investigation was found to be substantiated, would meet “Official Misconduct” criteria and trigger the mandated state requirements governing all law enforcement agencies in South Carolina to report the conduct to the state.

Justin Lee Kelley (22yoa) was hired on December 7, 2014, and was assigned to the Detention Center where he served as a Detention Officer.  Mr. Kelley was terminated from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office on June 19, 2015, for violation of Sheriff’s Office policies.

On June 19, 2015, agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division initiated an investigation at the request of Sheriff Rick Clark.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office was notified by SLED authorities that Kelley would be charged with two criminal offenses pursuant to their investigation.

Any inquiry about the criminal investigation should be directed to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.



“Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Assists with Investigation of Deceased Hiker”

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The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office responded to Twin Falls located on Water Falls Rd at approximately 11:35am after receiving reports of a fallen hiker.

Rescue personnel from several response entities were dispatched to the scene and located an adult male in the water at the base of the falls.

The victim was moved from the water and pronounced deceased at the scene by the Pickens County Coroner’s Office.

The victim was hiking with a group of other adults when it is believed that he lost his footing and fell to his death.

The investigation is still preliminary in nature and the identity of the victim has not yet been released by the Coroner’s Office.  An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow to confirm the manner and cause of death.

Please direct inquiries concerning the identity of the victim to the Pickens County Coroner’s Office later on today.


“Investigation Into Deceased Hiker Finds No Evidence Of Foul Play”

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Investigation into Deceased Hiker Finds No Evidence of Foul Play


The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has found no evidence or any other indication that Jonathan Michael McKenzie’s death was anything other than a tragic accident.

Interviews with the witness and preliminary results from the autopsy are all consistent with the original reported findings that the teenage hiker merely slipped on wet rocks and fell to his death.

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office is in the final stages of wrapping up the investigation which absent any further information will be classified as an accidental death.

Sheriff Rick Clark stated…

“Our hearts and prayers continue to be with Jonathan’s family and friends especially with the young lady who witnessed Jonathan’s fall on Sunday.  

 We encourage all hikers to stay on the designated trails and to always venture out with a partner in the event that you may need some assistance.  Registering with the park officials before you leave on your journey is critical for your safety and security.   

Jonathan attempted to follow most of the rules but many dangers exist in the wilderness and unfortunately we lost him at such an early age.”