Crime & Courts

South Carolina Suspect Sought For Murder Of New Mexico Police Officer

Case linked to missing persons investigation in the Palmetto State …

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A manhunt is underway for a Marion, South Carolina man accused of murdering a New Mexico State Police officer early Friday morning. The suspect being sought is also linked to a missing persons investigation in South Carolina, authorities have confirmed.

At approximately 5:00 a.m. MDT, officer Justin Hare of the New Mexico State Police (NMSP) was sent by dispatch to assist a motorist with a disabled vehicle on a remote stretch of Interstate 40 approximately nine miles southwest of Tucumcari, New Mexico. According to New Mexico police chief Troy Weisler, the motorist had a flat tire and was attempting to wave down passers-by.

After parking behind the disabled vehicle, the suspect – 33-year-old Jaremy Smith of Marion, S.C. – approached the passenger window of Hare’s patrol car and initiated a conversation. As Hare was offering to assist Smith in repairing the tire – or alternately giving him a lift into town – Smith “without warning pulled out a firearm and shot officer Hare.”

(Click to View)

Justin Hare (NMSP)

“The last words that officer Hare uttered on this earth was an offer to help the man who was about to kill him,” Weisler said in a video posted to Facebook. “I’m disgusted and I am sickened by the actions of this cold-blooded murderer.”

“I’m heartbroken by the devastating news that State Police Officer Justin Hare was killed in the line of duty while responding to a call near Tucumcari this morning,” New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wrote on X. “I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fellow officers at this most difficult time.”

Hare, of Logan, N.M., was 35 years old. He had been a member of the NMSP since graduating from recruit school in 2018. He is survived by his parents, girlfriend and two young children. Hare’s body was transported to Albuquerque on Friday by a procession including law enforcement agencies from across the state.

As for his accused killer, according to NMSP social media updates Smith was last seen on foot on the I-40 Frontage Road at milepost 304 between Montoya and Newkirk, New Mexico – approximately fifteen miles from the location of Hare’s murder. He was wearing a brown hoodie and a jacket.

“Smith is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached,” NMSP warned.

Those who encounter him are encouraged to call 9-1-1 or contact NMSP at 505-425-6771.

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New Mexico police have charged Smith with the following crimes: First degree murder, armed robbery, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, and criminal damage to property.

As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Smith is considered innocent until proven guilty – however it appears as though there is substantial video evidence implicating him in connection with the murder of Hare.

“We are bringing every resource to bear to bring officer Hare’s killer to justice,” Weisler said. “We will not rest until that is done.”

While New Mexico police work to apprehend Smith, law enforcement agencies in South Carolina are also involved in the investigation based on the disabled vehicle found at the scene of the shooting.

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The car – a white 2011 BMW 335i with South Carolina emergency services plates – belonged to Phonesia Machado-Fore of Marion, S.C. Machado, 52, is a paramedic with Florence County’s emergency medical services division. She has been the focus of a missing persons investigation in the Palmetto State since earlier this week.

According to Machado-Fore’s daughter, Roxie Currie, her mother was last seen at approximately 10:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning (March 13, 2024) at a friend’s house in Mullins, S.C.

“She was supposed to be going to my house in Latta, S.C. to pack some things for her trip here to Minnesota and never made it,” Currie wrote. “She left no clues as to where she was going.”

Machado-Fore is 5-foot-2 and weighs approximately 140 pounds, according to her daughter.

(Click to View)

Phonesia Machado-Fore (Facebook)

According to a post on the Missing in America Network’s Facebook page, Machado-Fore’s “last device ping was in the area of Goose Creek, S.C.” sometime on Thursday.

“That is nearly three hours south of where she should have been,” noted the update, which was written by a friend of Machado-Fore’s daughter.

Anyone with information on Machado-Fore’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Marion County sheriff’s office at 843-423-8399.

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UPDATE …

Machado-Fore’s body has been found in Dillon County, authorities are confirming.

UPDATE 2 …

Smith is in custody.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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3 comments

Anonymous March 16, 2024 at 8:57 am

Best recap of any news outlet I could find. Bravo. We drove past all of this yesterday and it was wild.

Reply
Simon Templar Top fan March 16, 2024 at 9:27 am

Pray for both families, so much to offer, taken to soon. Phonesia and Justin’s family deserve some peace and support. The outcome of which even swift justice cannot ease the pain. May God hold them in the palm of his hand. Rest in peace

Reply
tamara rhodes Top fan March 17, 2024 at 4:03 pm

Stay on the story and find out why this thug was not locked up.

Reply

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