A rural South Carolina sheriff was found dead on Monday evening of an apparent heart attack, county officials are confirming.
Dillon County sheriff Douglas “Humbunny” Pernell died Monday at the age of 61, according to county coroner Donnie Grimsley. Details are still surfacing, but according to multiple social media posts the cause of the sheriff’s death was “heart related.” As of Monday evening, though, Grimsley’s office had not disclosed any information related to the circumstances of Pernell’s passing.
Coroner Todd Hardee of neighboring Darlington County praised Pernell for his service and asked for prayers on behalf of his family.
“Sheriff Pernell served the people of Dillon County well for many years,” Hardee wrote.
The Dillon County sheriff’s office paid tribute to Pernell by posting an image of one of its badges with a black ribbon over it …
(Click to view)
Pernell was elected sheriff in November of 2020 and was sworn in on January 3, 2021. A thirty-year law enforcement veteran, he was elected after two previously unsuccessful bids for sheriff. Pernell, a Democrat, ran against Republican Tracy Pelt in the last election – garnering 55 percent of the vote. Prior to his election, Pernell had served as chief deputy under Dillon County sheriff Harold Grice from 2001-2009.
Home to nearly 28,000 people, Dillon County is located in the northeastern corner of the Palmetto State – on the border with North Carolina. Just across the border, Robeson County (N.C.) sheriff Burnis Wilkins issued a statement praising his late colleague.
“Sheriff Pernell was a great man who genuinely cared for his county,” Wilkins said in a statement. “I am thankful to have known and worked alongside Sheriff Pernell.”
Other tributes poured in on social media late Monday as news of Pernell’s death spread.
“He was greatly loved by many and will be greatly missed,” a statement from the local newspaper, The Dillon Herald, noted.
“Dillon County suffered a great loss this evening,” one of Pernell’s 2020 supporters Jamal Campbell wrote. “Please join me in praying for our sheriff’s family, the department, church and community at large.
This is a developing story … please check back for updates.
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Jenn Wood is FITSNews' incomparable research director. She's also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she's married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at [email protected].
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