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Crime & Courts

Post-Conviction Confession? Brutal South Carolina Killing Has Surprise Twist

Sins of the father?

Days after a jury in Anderson County, South Carolina convicted 33-year-old Adam Lawless of the graphic 2018 murder of his former girlfriend – 24-year-old Tabatha Duncan of Iva, S.C. – another man has reportedly confessed to committing the brutal homicide.

That man? Adam Lawless’ father, 55-year-old James Lawless.

The elder Lawless reportedly told investigators in Anderson County over the weekend it was him – not his son – who strangled and stabbed Duncan on the morning of Monday, March 12, 2018 inside a home on East Broad Street in Iva, S.C.

Iva is a town of approximately 1,000 people located in southern Anderson County just five miles from the Savannah River border with Georgia.

Duncan’s body was found inside the laundry room of the Broad Street home which she shared with Adam Lawless. She had been strangled and stabbed multiple times in her torso, according to Anderson County coroner Greg Shore. Duncan had been dead anywhere between eight to twelve hours prior to her body being found, according to Shore – who described the manner of her death as being “very violent in nature.”



Compounding the tragedy? Duncan’s two-year-old daughter was found by police inside the home at the time mother’s body was discovered – unharmed. Another one of her children – a five-year-old boy – was not in the home at the time of the murder.

Duncan’s murder was investigated by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) at the request of the Iva police department. SLED arrested Adam Lawless on March 16, 2018 and charged him with murder and related offenses in connection with her death.

According to Nikie Mayo – formerly of The (Anderson, S.C.) Independent Mail – Adam Lawless “was at work when his father went to check on Duncan and had to break a pane of glass to get into the house.”

Upon entering the residence, James Lawless discovered Duncan’s body and called 911, according to Mayo’s report.

Where was Adam Lawless while all of this was happening? He told police he left the residence at 6:30 a.m. EDT that morning and had not seen Duncan since.

Lawless’ attorney, William N. Epps III, filed a notice of appeal in this case with the S.C. supreme court last Monday (April 17, 2023). Of interest? This notice was filed several days before James Lawless reportedly issued his belated confession to police.

Police didn’t buy that narrative. Prosecutors didn’t buy it, either. And most importantly, a jury of Adam Lawless’ peers didn't buy it. Earlier this month, Lawless was convicted of Duncan’s murder and sentenced to thirty years in prison by S.C. circuit court judge Scott Sprouse. This is a "mandatory minimum” sentence - meaning Lawless is supposed to serve it "day for day.” Obviously "mandatory minimums” have proven to be anything but "mandatory” in South Carolina, however.

Duncan’s murder was prosecuted by the office of S.C. tenth circuit solicitor David Wagner - specifically, senior assistant solicitor Kristin Reeves. Last Friday, Wagner praised Reeves - and SLED - for securing a conviction against Adam Lawless.

Is there anything to James Lawless' statements to law enforcement? Or is this just a desperate move by a desperate family member? Stay tuned ... we have reached out to investigators and prosecutors in the hopes of determining the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of his belated confession.



Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.



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