BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A man was denied bond after being accused of killing 86-year-old Essie Benekin and setting her home on fire in the Pineville community.
“That’s my sister, I miss my sister. I don’t have a sister anymore,” says Daisy Green, Benekin’s sister.
An affidavit released shows a cigarette butt, a glove, and a knife linked 31-year-old Shelton Romone Brown to the crime scene. He was later discovered to have lived near Benekin.
“We were able to tie Brown to the crime and develop enough probable cause to arrest him,” says Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis.
Family members say a few days before Benekin was killed, someone broke into her home and took some of her belongings. Her daughter says she was with her mother a few hours before.
“I remember leaving her on the porch Sunday at 6:00 p.m., speaking to her at 10:23 p.m. to remind her to arm her alarm, and I am getting a call at 1:50 a.m. that she’s dead,” says Lutrica Gethers, Benekin’s daughter.
Loved ones say Benekin was a caring person, who did anything to help people in the Pineville community, especially children at her local church.
“She was in our community, and that is a good community. Everybody knew everybody,” says Green.
“She just didn’t deserve to die like that. She didn’t deserve to be unrecognizable,” says Gethers.
As the family continues to grieve the loss, they say they want to feel safe and protected in their community again and want to see Brown brought to justice.
“We’re not vindictive. My mother’s life was taken, so I just want justice,” says Gethers.
Brown is facing charges of murder, burglary, arson, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.