Inmate used contraband cellphone to orchestrate murder of SC woman

South Carolina News

LAURENS Co., SC (WSPA) — On Thursday, investigators announced eight arrests made in connection to a York County woman’s kidnapping and murder.

In a news conference Friday morning, Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds thanked several agencies for helping in the case, including four different sheriff’s office, the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and even the FBI.

Reynolds, while brief in his remarks due to the ongoing investigation, pointed to contraband cell phones in prison as the reason this homicide was ever able to happen.

Investigators announced Thursday that eight people were arrested in connection to Michelle Dodge’s death:

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, the following people have been charged for their involvement in the murder:

James Robert Peterson
– Murder
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Aaron Carrion
– Murder
– Possession of a weapon during a violent crime
– Kidnapping
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Aaron Sprouse
– Murder
– Possession of a weapon during a violent crime
– Kidnapping
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Billy Wayne Ruppe
– Accessory after the fact to murder
– Criminal Conspiracy

Brandon Lee Phillips
– Accessory before the fact to murder
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Lisa Marie Bolton
– Kidnapping
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Lisa Marie Costello
– Kidnapping
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Catherine Ross
– Kidnapping
– Conspiracy to commit kidnapping
– Accessory after the fact to kidnapping

Officials said in a news release Thursday that evidence indicated that Peterson, who is serving a 30-year sentence for murder, orchestrated Dodge’s killing from prison.

Reynolds said a contraband cell phone allowed him to do it.

We know from our records that Peterson was disciplined at least three times in 2018 for possessing or attempting to possess a cell phone.

We reported earlier that Dodge was found shot in the back of the head and left in the woods off of Ekom Beach Road. Her car was later found ditched in a wooded area of Cherokee County.

Reynolds hinted that her murder may not have happened had illegal cell phones not been in the hands of inmates.

“With cell phone use in this prison, contraband telephone, had it not been for that, this could have maybe never been,” he said. “Should have never been orchestrated and started in motion.”

The sheriff would not comment on a motive for Dodge’s murder, but did say that all of the people involved knew each other, as well as Dodge, through the buying and selling of illegal drugs.

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