COLUMBIA, S.C. – Police investigating the slayings of three people whose bodies were found in a drainage pipe Thursday said a 24-year-old man would be charged with murder in the deaths.
The bodies of a woman and two men were found near an apartment complex where the woman lived. Prosecutors have told police to draw up three murder warrants against Charles Gamble, who was the woman's ex-boyfriend and the father of her baby boy, Police Chief Dean Crisp said.
Authorities also placed a small child from the woman's apartment into protective custody.
An apartment complex resident who says she was a close friend of the woman killed identified Gamble as the victim's ex-boyfriend and father of the child. Twenty-year-old Rodrena Patrick says Gamble had been living at the apartment complex until the couple got into a fight about a month ago.
Crisp would not confirm Gamble's relationship with any of the victims.
Gamble has a criminal record dating back to a 2000 grand larceny charge. He was currently on probation for a stalking conviction.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said authorities initially had difficulty reaching the bodies. By midmorning, the bodies had been removed from the pipe, which is larger than 3 feet in diameter, and were being taken to the coroner's office for identification, Crisp said.
"When you find a crime like this, it's clearly out of the ordinary," Crisp said.
Authorities had no suspects, he said.
A resident of the apartment complex reported seeing the bodies around 5 a.m., police Sgt. Florence McCants said. Police also received a call about gunshots in the area, but Crisp was unsure if it was related.
Dozens of complex residents gathered in small groups outside the crime scene tape. Authorities put tarps on a fence to shield the area from onlookers.
At the complex of one-story apartments, resident Tanyetta Brown said there had been recent crimes in the area.
"It's not that the neighborhood is dangerous, it's the company that you keep," Brown said.
Residents also expressed frustration about a lack of police presence in the area.
"You call the police and it takes three and four hours for them to get to a call," said Dorothy Ball, 75, who has lived at the complex for 18 years. "They don't patrol out here like they should. It makes me mad. It's terrible out here."
The complex is less than five miles from the state Capitol.