GEORGETOWN, S.C. – A South Carolina man killed his mother with a sword after the two argued late Sunday night in the home they shared in a rural hamlet, police said.
Laura Ferrante, 51, was cut several times with the sword in her modest one-story home in the rural Brown's Ferry community about 10 miles northwest of Georgetown on the South Carolina coast. The fatal wound was a large slash to her neck and head, authorities said Monday.
A neighbor called police after Ferrante's adult daughter found her bleeding on the floor and ran to a neighbor's home, saying her brother had driven away, said Georgetown County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Neil Johnson.
An officer later saw the car in Georgetown and pulled over 29-year-old Jonathan Maurice White, who was arrested and charged with murder, Johnson said. He would not say what type of sword was used to kill Ferrante and said investigators haven't determined what the mother and son were arguing about.
White was in jail awaiting a bond hearing, and officials didn't know if he had a lawyer.
A neighbor said Ferrante had been struggling with her son for years, trying to help him keep a job and helping him out of scrapes with law enforcement.
"He seemed to be in trouble all the time," said James Vereen, who lives about a quarter mile away. Vereen said that White had been let go from his job at a local grocery store and his mother had been trying to help him get his job back.
"We're not sure what happened," said Terry Prior, the 48-year-old brother of the victim.
"We were together all day yesterday and everything was fine," he said. "We had a glorious time. We went to church."
Asked if White collected swords, he said the sword "was just something that was there."
Prior, speaking outside Ferrante's house as light drizzle fell in the community of modest ranch homes and towering pines, said he is mystified by the killing. His sister, he said, "was a beautiful person. She was a helpful person, and he was a good kid."
Prior said he didn't know of any previous problems between the mother and son.
Vereen, 80, said he watched Ferrante grow up in the tight-knit community. She worked as a young woman in the fields and later worked as a housekeeper for a resort hotel in Pawleys Island. He said White didn't always live with his mother.
"Everybody in this community gets along together and lives together. We're church people," Vereern said. "It's just hard to see something like this happen."