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Wife to police: Goose Creek man accused of killing, burying two had history of mental issues - Post and Courier

Affidavit: Goose Creek man killed 2, burned and buried bodies | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WCIV

Two S.C. men fatally shot, buried and burned over unpaid taxi fare, police say

By Lindsey Bever March 7 at 2:31 PM

A Goose Creek, S.C., man is accused of killing two men and burning and burying the bodies in the backyard of his home. The suspect, James Loftis, has been arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, James Edward Loftis rode a taxi from a strip club to his home in Goose Creek, S.C., not far from Charleston, according to court documents.

When he got there, he later told police, the driver and another man followed him in — demanding that he pay his fare.

“I’ll get your money,” he said he told them.

Instead, he told police, he walked into another room, returned with a semiautomatic handgun and fired eight shots, striking the two men.

Loftis said that he dragged their bodies to his back yard and dumped them in a shallow grave, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

After leaving the scene, he told police, he later returned home to douse the bodies with gasoline and set them ablaze.

Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said autopsies would be performed Monday on the victims, who have not yet been identified.

Loftis, 39, has been arrested and charged with two counts of murder, according to booking records. He was being held without bond.

Police were called to the home late Saturday night when Loftis’s wife reported that while she was out of town, Loftis had called her to say he “killed ‘them’ and put them in the back yard,” according to court documents.

When she got home, she later told police, she found a bullet hole in the living room wall and Loftis “passed out from drinking alcohol,” according to an incident report.

She told police “James has a history of mental issues, and that story just doesn’t make sense” to her, according to the report.

When authorities arrived at the house, Loftis was still asleep.

Officers found the bullet hole, “blood throughout the grout of the tile floor leading from the front room to the kitchen” and a 3-by-5-foot grave in the back yard, according to the police report.

The Berkeley County Coroner’s Office was called in to investigate.

“In the back yard of the residence we found a shallow grave,” the coroner said in a statement. “After unearthing the grave we found the remains of two bodies.”

Loftis told investigators that shortly after he entered his house early Saturday, the taxi driver and another man started banging on the front door, according to the court documents.

He told police he got his .45-caliber handgun and opened fire.

Loftis drove the taxi to Old Back River Road and abandoned it, according to the court documents. At some point, according to the police report, authorities had found a Dodge Caravan taxi along the road and searched it “due to an odor of marijuana emitting from it.”

Authorities were unable to make contact with the owner.

On his walk home, Loftis later told police, he stopped at a Kangaroo Gas Station on Red Bank Road and purchased five gallons of gasoline.

“The defendant then indicated that he cleans his residence with bleach,” according to the court documents, “and places his clothing and towels used to clean the residence in the hole with the victims’ bodies.

At that point, Loftis told authorities, he set them ablaze.

Maj. John Grainger, a Goose Creek police spokesman, said investigators are interviewing witnesses and following “new and existing leads” in the case.

“This is a very, very young investigation,” he told The Post.

Authorities have not released a possible motive and have not said what — if any — defense Loftis might offer in court.

South Carolina does have a “stand your ground” law, which states that someone may use deadly force against an intruder or attacker in certain circumstances.

The Protection of Persons and Property Act states:

The bill provides that there is no duty to retreat if (1) the person is in a place where he has a right to be, including the person’s place of business, (2) the person is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and (3) the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily injury, or the commission of a violent crime.

A person who lawfully uses deadly force is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action, unless the person against whom deadly force was used is a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his official duties and he identifies himself in accordance with applicable law or the person using deadly force knows or reasonably should have known the person is a law enforcement officer.

It’s not clear whether such a defense would apply in this case.

It’s also not known whether Loftis has obtained an attorney.

The victims’ friends and families appeared at Loftis’s bond hearing Sunday night, showing their devastation and disbelief over the killings.

One of the victims’ daughters said she forgave him.

“I just want to say I forgive you,” she said at the bond hearing, according to Live5News. “I suggest that you tell your other cohorts, because I know it wasn’t just you.”

The taxi driver’s wife said she “wanted to know why.”

“You took my soulmate from me,” she said, according to the Post and Courier. “He didn’t deserve to be burned.”

This story has been updated.
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