COLUMBIA, S.C. – A teen accused of killing his family spent the hours after the slayings riding four-wheelers with a friend and buying steaks for dinner, the friend's grandmother said Tuesday.
Nathan Dickson, who is accused of shooting his father, stepmother, stepsister and brother on Saturday morning, was arrested that evening outside friend Brantley Creel's home.
"I thought my heart was going to stop beating," said Creel's grandmother, Sybil Philyaw, who saw the arrest.
The teens had spent the day together and had gone to get supplies for a cookout when authorities arrived on Philyaw's doorstep, she said. They told her and her husband that four members of Dickson's family had been killed and that Dickson didn't know police were looking for him, she said.
Her husband called their grandson's cell phone, telling him to come home because it was about to rain and the four-wheelers needed to be cleaned and put away. When they returned, Dickson was arrested, she said.
Creel, who did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press, told a local newspaper that Dickson seemed carefree Saturday. But he told his grandmother his friend had one odd request: to clean his feet in a tub.
"We were just cutting up and having fun all day," Creel, 19, told the Independent-Mail of Anderson.
Authorities have not offered a motive for the killings, and would not confirm Philyaw's account Tuesday. A message seeking comment was not immediately returned by Dickson's public defender. He is jailed pending a bond hearing and could face the death penalty.
Neighbors say Dickson, 19, who had worked a series of fast food jobs, had recently moved back into his family's Easley home after a breakup with his live-in girlfriend.
Philyaw said Creel met Dickson at a career center used by local school districts and that he had been hanging around her home in Belton — about 20 miles from Easley, a Greenville suburb in the northern part of the state — more often in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the neighbor who discovered Dickson's wounded father in the front yard of his home said she had trouble reconciling the charges with the once-common sight of Dickson playing outside with the younger brother he is accused of shooting multiple times.
"You'd always see them tossing a ball, shooting hoops, things like that," said Shelia Dilelio, who lived down the block.