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Crime in Colleton County has recently gone to the dogs

Jason Chapman now heads the SRT Division. Photos by Rick Tobin

Jason Chapman now heads the SRT Division. Photos by Rick Tobin

Four-legged assistance helped in two crime-related cases within Colleton County recently. K-9 teams helped in thwarting two crimes relating to areas of illegal activity that has been plaguing the county for years.

On Sunday night, February 10, deputies on routine patrol in the Hyde Park and Longleaf neighborhoods, were dispatched to an Otis Road residence. A woman had found a gate and a shed door open at her residence, but, during a first look around the premises, could not find anything missing.

K-9 1The office’s Special Response Team, a team formed by newly-elected Sheriff Andy Strickland, later moved into the neighborhood. SRT Lieutenant Jason Chapman, while patrolling in an unmarked patrol vehicle with its lights off and moving very slowly to make as little noise as possible, spotted a man wearing a stocking cap and hooded sweatshirt about 50 feet away from him pushing an all-terrain vehicle in the yard of a residence on Otis Rd. “The Hyde Park and Longleaf neighborhoods have been hit hard by burglaries for a period of at least a year, and we patrol that area on a routine basis,” Chapman said.

“At about the time I saw him, he saw me, and he took off. He scaled a fence, and I called for assistance. Within three minutes, a team of deputies had been dispatched to this neighborhood.” The patrolling deputies were Sergeant Jackie Lawson, Corporal Brandon Allen, and Deputy Shannon Thomason. The three vehicles formed a tight perimeter around the crime scene. A K-9 handler and his dog then tracked the suspect until he was located and arrested. His vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, was found in a wooded area near the residence, and a riding lawnmower was found near the vehicle.

Ashley Nathan Murdaugh, 28, of 781 Salcrow Road in Smoaks, was charged with grand larceny in connection with the theft of the ATV, a 2009 Yamaha Raptor 700 worth approximately $5,700. He was also charged with possession of stolen goods worth more than $2,000 in connection with the theft of the riding mower, which was later determined to have been taken from the residence that deputies first responded to.

Bond was revoked concerning Federal charges against Murdaugh for allegedly fleeing from the Coast Guard in a stolen boat. Before his arrest in Colleton County, Murdaugh had been out on bond awaiting the outcome of that charge.

The second incident involving the use of a K-9 unit began in Charleston County. About 15 pounds of what is thought to be high-grade marijuana was discovered in that county during a K-9 alert at a Fed-ex facility. “Last Wednesday, we got a call from Charleston County’s Narcotics Division,” Chapman said. “We have a good relationship with Charleston County, and we were told that they had intercepted a package bound for Walterboro that got an alert from a K-9 unit.”

The package was tested and the contents were found to be a THC-based substance, Chapman said. The package was then re-sealed and the Fed-ex controlled delivery continued to its destination, a residence on Rivers Street in Walterboro.

A warrant was executed at the Rivers Street residence, and another package that reportedly contained marijuana was also reportedly discovered by a K-9 unit. The two packages combined contained close to 30 pounds of marijuana worth close to $90,000. A suspect has been identified and an arrest is pending.