Agents of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) have made an arrested in connection with a murder case … from 44 years ago. According to a news release from the agency, 65-year-old Charles Ugvine Coleman of Whitmire, S.C. is facing one murder count and one “miscellaneous” charge in connection with the March 20, 1976 murder of Elizabeth Ann Howell Wilson.
Wilson, 45, was reported missing from her shift at the since-shuttered Eureka plant operated by Springs Mills in Chester, S.C.
“Her body and stolen vehicle (were) located later in Fairfield county near the intersection of Ashford Ferry Road and Dave Jenkins Road,” the SLED release noted.
“She had been sexually assaulted, strangled and beaten,” the release added.
A probable cause affidavit accompanying the warrant for Coleman’s arrest on the murder charge alleged that he killed Wilson “by strangulation and blunt force trauma.” A separate probable cause affidavit on the “miscellaneous” arrest warrant alleged that Coleman “ravished” Wilson “with force.”
According to our sources, this “miscellaneous” charge was filed due to the fact that sexual assault laws in the Palmetto State have undergone considerable updating in the years since this crime took place.
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According to SLED, a “recent forensics breakthrough” enabled the agency to determine that Coleman was involved in this crime. Specifically, his recent arrest on an unrelated charge led to his DNA being uploaded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s national combined DNA index system – or CODIS.
SLED regularly checks DNA from cold cases against new entries into the database, and this time one of those searches produced a match.
“We got a hit,” SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby to us.
“Our agents and forensics experts’ work hard and are dedicated to bringing justice to those who commit crimes against our citizens,” SLED chief Mark Keel said in a statement. “Whether the crime was recent or happened more than forty years ago, we will not stop in trying to solve the case. I appreciate the teamwork showed by everyone in helping bring closure to the Wilson family.”
SLED’s release included an appeal to the public – specifically asking anyone with “information that can further assist in this investigation” to contact the agency at 803-896-2605.
The issuance of an appeal would seem to indicate this inquiry is ongoing and that additional arrests and/ or charges could be forthcoming.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Coleman is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter a plea in connection with either of the charges filed against him.
Coleman was booked at the Fairfield county detention center. His case will be prosecuted by the office of S.C. sixth circuit solicitor Randy E. Newman Jr.
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