2017-11-13 / Front Page

GRISLY SLAYING

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Common-law wife, stepson of victim charged with murder after remains found dismembered under mobile home
By SCOTT POWELL
Ledger Staff Writer

Two people have been taken into custody after a man’s dismembered body was found under a mobile home Thursday on Harris Trail in Cherokee County.

Charles Jacob Bridges, 18, of 295 River Drive, Spartanburg; and Dawn Michelle Wilkins, 40, of 216 Harris Trail; have been charged with murder in the death of 51-year-old Gary James Stone, also of 216 Harris Trail. Wilkins is Stone’s common law wife. Bridges is Wilkins’ son.

Sheriff ’s office investigators executed a search warrant at the home and discovered the grisly remains in several bags and containers in a crawl space.

“In 28 years this is probably the worst scene that I have observed and have been at when this kind of discovery is made,” Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said during a press conference Friday. “It’s not normal to see this type of evil on a daily basis, even in law enforcement.”

Bond has been denied for both suspects. They were taken into custody Thursday at the residence without incident, police said.

Mueller said additional charges will be made against Wilkins and Bridges as the investigation unfolds.

Officers were initially dispatched to the Harris Trail mobile home Nov. 3 regarding a call about a possible fight. Although there was a request to cancel the call while officers were en route, in accordance with sheriff ’s office policy, deputies continued to the scene to check on the welfare of persons at the site

“Officers talked to Gary James Stone and he indicated that he and his stepson Bridges had been in an argument and that he (Stone) had walked away from the residence and everything was alright,” Mueller said. “He (Stone) advised the officers to leave, that he did not want to file a report and that he would be fine after he cooled off.”

Officers went to conduct a welfare check Nov. 8 after relatives had not heard from Stone for several days. The sheriff said Wilkins told deputies Stone was drinking and had left and had not been heard from since.

Deputies received a tip from a caller Thursday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. about a possible murder at the Harris Trail home. Mueller said investigators executed a search warrant at approximately 3 p.m. and found Stone’s dismembered body about an hour later.

Investigators worked all day Thursday documenting and collecting evidence.

Mueller said that while investigators were interviewing Bridges on Thursday evening, he (Bridges) told them he became angry over things Stone had allegedly said to Wilkins during an argument.

The sheriff said Bridges told investigators that during a fight in the front yard he choked out and stabbed Stone once in the back to paralyze him before dismembering the body. The sheriff said Bridges told authorities that he planned to dispose of the remains later.

Results from an autopsy Friday showed the cause of Stone’s death was exsanguination (blood loss), Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. The coroner said Stone’s body had multiple stab wounds.

According to Mueller, Wilkins was charged in the murder because investigators said she did not call 911 or make an effort to help Stone. The sheriff said investigators believe Wilkins helped move Stone’s body to the back of the mobile home before it was dismembered.

A criminal history background check shows Wilkins has been arrested numerous times since 1995. Wilkins has convictions in South Carolina for burglary, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, breach of trust, and public disorderly conduct, according to State Law Enforcement Division records. SLED records show Wilkins is a registered sex offender from a criminal sexual conduct with a minor case from April 28, 2006.

“The entire team of investigators led by Captain Daniel Ward and Crime Scene Lieutenant Billy Anthony along with Investigator April Haney were relentless in their pursuit of these two murder suspects,” Mueller said. “It was a daunting and gruesome task for our officers but the spirit of cooperation was excellent between the officers involved, and citizens of Cherokee County can rest safely knowing these subjects are off the streets.”

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