South Carolina Police Hope Suspect Can Provide Clues About Missing Constable

Authorities in South Carolina are hoping Walter Fayall III can provide some clues as to the whereabouts of volunteer constable Robert Lee Bailey, who has been missing for more than three days.

Investigators are still waiting to speak with Fayall, 24, who has emerged as a chief suspect in Bailey's disappearance. He is being held in Florence, N.C., on an unrelated federal weapons offense after his apprehension in Charlotte early Wednesday, authorities said.

Two other suspects have been detained in the case, also on unrelated charges. They are associates of Fayall.

A candelight vigil will be held for Bailey Friday night in Lincolnville.

Bailey disappeared Monday night while patrolling the small community of Lincolnville, S.C., about 20 miles northwest of Charleston. His hat and gun were found in a yard, and his torched cruiser was discovered behind a church off nearby Interstate 26. Authorities believe some sort of shootout occurred just before Bailey went missing.

Authorities found Bailey's constable cap, two pistols, shell casings and a large amount of blood in the yard and street outside the home. DNA tests have not yet concluded who the blood belongs to.

Police still have not recovered the 1989 black Chevrolet Caprice they say is linked to Fayall and may hold clues in Bailey's disappearance, reports The Charleston Post and Courier.

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The car had been seen the home where Fayall had been staying; Monday night's shooting took place outside that home. The Lincolnville police cruiser Bailey had been driving was found an hour later, torched and abandoned behind a church about five miles away.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said police found a 9 mm ammunition magazine and some .45-caliber ammunition in Fayall's Charlotte, N.C., motel room.

On Wednesday evening, a group of children found Bailey's badge and handcuffs case wrapped in a wad of burned rags in Harleyville, another 20 miles up the interstate, authorities said.

There was still no sign of the 67-year-old Bailey on Thursday. About 75 people were searching the rural Harleyville area and about 50 officers were investigating the case, Cannon said.

A helicopter and a plane searched from the sky looking for burned cars or bodies of water. Cannon said no search is planned for Friday.

"Unless something develops, we have searched everything that we felt like needed to be searched," Cannon said.

The circumstances of the case do not "lend itself to a whole lot of hope" that Bailey is safe, Cannon said.

Sgt. Richie Hill, Lincolnville's sole paid police officer, said there's no choice but to find his friend.

"We have no other choice, no other options. We have to find him," Hill told The Charleston Post and Courier. "There is no white flag waving. We will just do what we can with the resources we have, and the rest is in God's hands."

Hill said although he and Bailey had worked to squelch drug sales in that neighborhood, Bailey was not involved in any special operations the night he disappeared. Hill suspects his friend simply came upon an unexpected situation and "someone got the drop on him," he told the Post and Courier.

"He was aware of the dangers of the job, and I don't feel he would have put himself in a situation that would open him up to unwarranted danger," Hill told the newspaper. "This was an ambush. He was completely surprised by whoever got him over there."

One of the other men being questioned, Jerome Washington, 26, of Pineville, was charged Wednesday with arson and trespassing in an unrelated incident in Williamsburg County, said Michael Johnson, operations director at the county jail. Johnson said U.S. marshals picked up Washington on Thursday and took him back to Charleston.

Washington also faces federal charges of counterfeiting, Cannon said.

The Post and Courier reported that Washington had been on the U.S. Secret Service's most wanted list since February. He is accused of having ties to a group that manufactured more than $225,000 in counterfeit checks and opened bank accounts for the purpose of fraud between 2002 and 2005, according to the Secret Service.

Washington has previous convictions for criminal domestic violence, breaking into an auto, possession of a stolen vehicle and check fraud, reported the Post and Courier.

Brian Smalls was being held in a Berkeley County jail on a probation violation. The newspaper reported that Smalls has been convicted of unlawful carrying of a weapon and has multiple convictions for drug charges, according to state records.

No charges related to Bailey's disappearance had been filed by Thursday afternoon.

"I feel good about where we are in terms of the investigation," Cannon said, adding that he thinks the case will be solved soon.

Lincolnville Mayor Tyrone Aiken called the incident "a terrible tragedy" and said there would be a candlelight prayer service Friday night in front of the town police station. The town has a population of about 900 people.

Bailey has worked as a volunteer for the police department for about five years, logging about 30 to 35 hours a week.

Town councilman James Hampton called Bailey "a dedicated professional who went beyond the norm."

"He was someone who was committed, someone you could count on," Hampton said.

Sgt. Richie Hill, Lincolnville's only paid officer, said he hopes the investigation brings the town closure. "The rest we just put in God's hands," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.