Crime & Courts

Unsolved Carolinas: The Gospel Show Trio

Thirty-six years later … and still no answers.

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Scrolling through the databases of missing people in North and South Carolina can be a daunting task. The available information on these cases is limited, usually outdated and often confusing or contradictory. Some stories haven’t been touched for years, begging the question: What happened to these people?

Did they just disappear? If so, how? Did some of them want to disappear? Did someone want some of them to disappear? Or did something even more sinister happen to them? 

The case of Sarah W. Boyd, Kimberly Boyd and Linda McCord – briefly referenced in the introduction to this series – is no different. Well, except for one notable exception. The three females – two women and a young child – disappeared together, vanishing without a trace shortly before midnight on April 3, 1987.

More than thirty-six years have passed since that night … with no answers.

Complicating the difficulties in solving this case is the fact information on their disappearance was scarce. I spent days digging through newspaper archives to piece together a story about the two women and young child and came out of the rabbit hole with more questions than answers, but even more determined to share their story once again after all these years. 

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(Via: FITSNews)

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THE CONCERT …

On April 3, 1987, 32-year old Sarah Boyd and 33-year old Linda McCord attended a gospel concert in Walterboro, S.C. Boyd’s two-year old daughter, Kimberly Boyd, made the trip with them. The three traveled to the show together from Harleyville, S.C. in a blue Lincoln Continental belonging to McCord’s husband.

Despite reading every news article available regarding this case, there was no reference of where this concert was held. After digging a little deeper, mention of a gospel concert was finally located in The (Walterboro) Press and Standard on April 2, 1987. The concert – advertised for the following day – was held in the Hampton Street Auditorium in Walterboro and according to the paper began at 7:30 p.m. EST. “The public is invited,” the notice read, touting performances by the Swanee Quintet of Augusta, Georgia and Slim and the Supreme Angels of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Hampton Street Auditorium is part of the Colleton Civic Center and is located at 494 Hampton Street in downtown Walterboro. According to news reports at the time, the three were spotted in Walterboro following the concert between 10:30 – 11:00 p.m. EST.

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Newspapers reported that when McCord’s husband arrived home from work around midnight, his wife was not yet home. When he awoke the next morning at 6:00 a.m. and discovered she had still not returned, he contacted the Dorchester County sheriff’s office to file a report.

In the days that followed, investigators discovered that Linda McCord had been seen in the parking lot of the auditorium speaking with “someone in a beat up old blue car.”

No additional information about this individual – or their vehicle – was provided to the public despite the fact that the same friends later reported seeing the same car following the women on the highway.

The three were last seen in Dorchester County – presumably on their way home to Harleyville.

Two days later, on April 5, 1987, the blue Lincoln belonging to McCord was found abandoned at Wells Crossroad in the Holly Hill area of Orangeburg County. Then-Orangeburg County sheriff lieutenant William Martin accompanied Linda McCord’s husband to the area. The two men located the vehicle and then moved it to someone’s yard. On April 10, 1987, the Times and Democrat reported that Orangeburg County chief investigator Nathaniel Hubbard told them the vehicle was still there and that he was trying to get in touch with someone from the Dorchester County sheriff’s office to find out more.

He clarified the women appeared to be missing from either Dorchester County or Walterboro – and that the only connection to Orangeburg County was the car being found there.

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Then-Dorchester County sheriff Carl Knight noted the vehicle’s location was approximately ten miles beyond where the women should have turned off to return to Harleyville. When they finally recovered the vehicle, it was determined it had been disabled after a freeze plug had blown off – which would have resulted in the car “running hot.”

“Apparently, this was as far as it would go,” Orangeburg sheriff C.R. Smith Jr. told reporters.

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THE SEARCHES …

After three weeks of fruitless investigation – amid pressure from the families of both McCord and Boyd – a search was scheduled for Sunday, April 26, 1987 in the wooded areas surrounding where the vehicle was found. Sheriff Knight told the Times and Democrat his agency “called for the search to satisfy the families.”

By the time the search was conducted, Sarah’s husband – Phillip Boyd – had taken and passed a lie detector test. Linda McCord’s husband – John McCord – declined one on the advice of his attorneys. According to Linda’s mother, Siseroe Williams, the McCords lived with them at the time she disappeared – but John McCord reportedly moved out of her home the day Linda’s car was found abandoned.

Both Linda and Sarah’s family members were adamant the two would not have disappeared.

“I think something has happened to her,” Williams told The State newspaper. “I am just hoping and praying she is still alive. This would not be like her, to just leave. Linda wouldn’t stay away from me for that long. We were very close.”

Sarah Boyd’s cousin, Tonya Boyd, echoed that sentiment.

“I don’t see them going somewhere at the last minute,” she told the paper. “They had invited other people to go to the program with them, so that shows they hadn’t planned anything.”

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The search for the missing women and young girl yielded no clues as to their whereabouts, but it did bring an unexpected find – one which apparently halted the search and began a new investigation. While searching the Wells Crossroad area where McCord’s abandoned vehicle was discovered, a pilot for the S.C. State Law Enforcement Department (SLED) spotted three acres of well-tended marijuana fields. The fields contained as much marijuana as SLED had confiscated statewide the entire year prior – and contained irrigation wells and sprinkler systems tending to plants as high as fifteen feet tall.

SLED captain Steve Smith estimated the drugs had a value as high as $20 million at the time – and stated it would take authorities up to three days to chop the plants down and haul them away. Accordingly, the search for the women was put on hold as law enforcement officials began this process. Meanwhile, Herman Marchant, 47, and his brothers – twins John W. “Blackie” Marchant and Jim M. “Whitey” Marchant, 63, were charged with manufacturing and trafficking marijuana.

Another search was conducted for the women and child in Dorchester County on the first weekend in May of 1987 after Dorchester County authorities received an anonymous phone call informing them the three had been killed and buried near the Dorchester Dragway. Authorities again came up empty-handed.

“I believe there is foul play involved,” a frustrated Sheriff Knight told reporters. “Right now we are at a standstill.”

Knight stated at the time he hoped the anonymous tipster would call back. Although Knight didn’t believe the caller was the killer, “he talked like he knew what was going on.”

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DECADES PASS …

After initial news reports brought no new information, the story began to fade away from the headlines. Other than an occasional advertisement placed by the McCord and Boyd families offering a $6,000 reward for any information that could lead to the missing women and child, there were no new updates.

Sisoroe Williams, died on September 9, 1987 at the age of 64. Linda was quietly listed as a survivor in her obituary – showing Williams never gave up hope her daughter would be found alive.

In 1990 – three years after the disappearance – there was another potential break in the case.

Sarah Boyd’s credit card was used at a local mall. Police stated the signature on the receipt was barely legible – and didn’t match the missing woman’s handwriting. The identity of the person who used the credit card has never been ascertained, and it’s currently unknown if they had any involvement in the trio’s disappearances.

Phillip Boyd remarried and he and his new wife had a son, but before he could remarry, he had to go through the painful process of having his wife declared dead. He told the Post and Courier in 2011 that he prayed for his family every day and about his daughter, Kimberly, who was 2-years old when she disappeared,

“I wish I could see her again. I wanted to watch her grow up. … I missed so much,” he told the paper. “It’s the worst thing that ever happened to me — a loving family vanished into thin air.” 

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UPDATES FROM DORCHESTER …

This news outlet reached out to the Dorchester County sheriff’s office to get an update on where this case stands today. Sheriff’s lieutenant Rick Carson responded promptly to our inquiries with the information he was able to share.

“This case is very near and dear to our sheriff,” Carson told us, noting that current Dorchester sheriff L.C. Knight “assisted with this case while he was a special agent with SLED.”

“His father, Carl Knight, was initially involved as he was the sheriff of Dorchester County in 1987,” Carson said.

According to Carson, Dorchester County continues to pursue all leads they receive regarding this case. And while he said there was no new information to share, he was able to fill us in on three recent developments.

According to Carson, a tip was received in 2019 about a woman living in Memphis who was thought to resemble Kimberly Boyd.  This tip was assigned directly to Carson – who was able to speak with the female in question.

“Through that conversation and documentation we quickly determined it was not Kimberly Boyd,” he said.

In May of 2020 the Orangeburg County sheriff’s office received a tip that the bodies of Sarah and Kimberly Boyd and Linda McCord could be found under concrete work at a house in Santee, South Carolina that had been scheduled for demolition. Carson, along with Sheriff Knight and Orangeburg County sheriff Leroy Ravenell – and many others from both agencies – spent three-and-a-half days dismantling the home, breaking up concrete, and sifting through dirt. The investigators also employed the use of ground-penetrating radar. Unfortunately, nothing was found.

In my initial email to Carson, I inquired about the body of a female child found in Waycross, Georgia on December 21, 1988 that remains unidentified. The body was found off Duncan Bridge Road in Ware County, Georgia The artist rendering of the child resembled Kimberly Boyd so much that it was unsettling.

(Click to View)

Known as “Christmas Doe,” road workers found her body concealed inside a duffle bag placed inside a suitcase, and further concealed inside an old television cabinet.

Her estimated age at the time of her death was between three and four years old and investigators believe she died approximately four to eight weeks before her body was found.

But by all appearances, she wasn’t meant to be found.

While I was certain they had also checked into this, I felt I had to share the information with authorities in case it was a critical piece of information that could potentially bring some closure. Carson said authorities received the same tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) about the unidentified girl in Georgia and Sheriff Knight called in the criminal investigation commander.

That tip has now been assigned to an investigator.

Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Sarah Boyd, Kimberly Boyd and Linda McCord please contact the Dorchester County sheriff’s office at either 843-873-5111 or 843-832-0300

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

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 jenn@fitsnews.com.

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