NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C – A man was charged Sunday with murdering his wife and her four children in a domestic dispute at their home, authorities said.
Michael Simmons, 41, appeared at a bond hearing via video link from the Charleston County jail on Sunday and was ordered held without bond on five counts of murder.
Officers discovered the bodies, including that of a 6-year-old, Saturday after responding to a call. According to an arrest affidavit, a witness saw the bodies in the home then called police. The affidavit said Simmons was captured as he tried to drive away from the scene.
The victims had been shot with a handgun, the affidavit said. Simmons was not the children's father, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said.
Simmons and Betra Rainey had been married for more than a year, said Spencer Pryor, a North Charleston police spokesman. "This appears to have been a domestic situation that turned deadly," he said.
Wooten had earlier identified the victims as Rainey, 39, and her children William Rainey, 16, Hakiem Rainey, 13, Malachia Robinson, 8, and Samenia Robinson, 6.
Wooten said she was still completing autopsies and did not want to speculate on the time of death.
The jail did not have any attorney information for Simmons.
"Words can't express the impact this has had on our family," relative Gene Fanning said at the bond hearing. "It's a devastating loss. We want him held fully accountable for his actions."
Family members would not comment as they left the bond hearing but said they planned to meet later with reporters.
Monique Singleton, who lives across the street in the subdivision of about two dozen mobile homes, said that four children lived in the home and that her children occasionally played with them.
"They were nice people; they seemed fine," she said.