Also known as: Sumter County Does
Found: Dirt road a half a mile from Interstate 95 and Highway 341, Northeast Sumter County, SC
Date: August 9 1976
Male: 18-22 years, some estimates range as far as 30
Female: 18-25 years old
DNA: Both exhumed in 2007 for DNA testing
Both shot multiple times and found by a trucker around 6.20am along a road commonly known as Locklair Road (commonly known as Locklear road today), a frontage road just off the interstate. A man states that he heard a car scuttling down the narrow frontage road. Someone climbed out, gunshots were heard, and then the car drove away. Their killer remains unidentified.
Area presumed at which the does were found
Male: Namus UP #13772
Shot at close range, in back, chest and throat, dead for less than 24 hours
Height and Weight: 6ft 1 – 6ft 4, 150lbs/68kg
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown eyes, brown hair, two 2 inch scars on his right shoulder area, 4″ appendectomy scar. Tall and athletic looking. Suspected olive undertones in their skin.
Dentals: Extensive and elaborate work with crowns and bridges. Crown on the left front tooth, acrylic or porcelain. Fillings in most upper teeth. Some missing teeth in top and bottom but noticeable in the top back left. Missing wisdom teeth on the bottom in the back.
Clothes: Faded Levi blue jeans, red t-shirt with Coors, America’s Light Beer on the front and Camel Challenger G-T Sebring 75 across the back. Most likely came from the 1975 Coors sponsored Sebring Races in Florida. Inside his jeans pocket was a box of Grants Truck Stop Matches that had likely come from a truck stop in the Midwest, potentially in Lupton, AZ. Other ‘Grant’s’ were situated in York, NE and Boise, ID. No underwear.
Jewellery: Decedent wore a Bulova Accutron yellow gold watch, serial number H918803 on his left hand. The piece was made in 1968 but as the company downsized shortly after and their records trashed, no one knows where the watches were distributed. He also wore a 14 karat gold ring with a grey linde star stone that had the initials JPF engraved on the inside.
Female: UP #13773
Shot at close range in the back, chest and throat, dead for less than 24 hours
Height and Weight: 5ft 5, 100-105lbs, 45-47kg
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair, medium length, blue/green or blue/grey eyes. Two small moles on left cheek and another on the right side of her face. Mole behind right leg at the calf. Pierced ears, no surgical scars, long eyelashes, olive undertones in skin, unshaven legs.
Dentals: No elaborate dental work. Missing upper and lower wisdom teeth on right. Has upper and lower wisdom teeth on left. Has fillings in all back teeth.
Clothing: Blue cutoff jeans, pink halter top tied at the front and an unbleached muslin blouse. Stride Rite wedge heeled sandals with lavender, pink and purple straps. No underwear.
Jewellery: Three silver rings that resembled American Indian or Mexican handmade jewellery. One piece was a faceted band with red, white and blue stones. Another had an oblong black stone. Third was large, intricate feather scroll band with a jade insert into the curves of the scroll
Analysis & Additional Information:
The couple had no money on them but there were several clues, such as their dental records and personal health, that suggested they had been well to do either in the U.S. or another country. They may have been hitchhiking cross country or been victims of a carjacking.
Originally, speculated to be brother and sister although not confirmed. No drugs or alcohol found. Non-smokers. The serial number on the man’s watch has shown no leads and their finger prints have shown negative results also. Dental records were published in national dental journals. Immigration authorities were alerted.
Autopsy showed that the pair had eaten fruit or ice cream with fruit not long before they died hence investigators were certain that they must have bought the food from a local eatery or store. A witness remembered seeing a couple matching the couple’s description at a fruit stand that was located off the Florence Highway but couldn’t say whether the man and woman were with someone else or if they were riding in a car.
In December of 1976, a truck driver named George Lonnie Henry from Wadesboro, NC was stopped in SC for driving under the influence. He had in his possession a stolen gun with a scratched-off serial number that was ultimately determined through ballistics to be the murder weapon. Subsequent interviews and polygraphs yielded mixed results as to whether or not he was the one responsible for their murders. According to George Henry’s statement he was a few hours away at the bedside of his ailing wife at a NC hospital during the killings. The chain of custody of the gun remains a mystery as well. George Henry claims that his brother, Jim Henry had given it to him as a gift. Since several months had elapsed since the murders, it is difficult to verify George Henry’s alibi or to verify who actually had possession of the gun at the time of the murders. The gun was originally stolen by a group of thieves in the Raleigh-Durham area, before the Henry’s came into possession of the gun.
A mechanic in York, NE stated that he thought he had worked on a van with a WA or OR that matched the couple’s description.
The t-shirt that the male was wearing was only sold at the Florida Sebring race. Some people have speculated that he might have a connection to IMSA racing. In fact, the weekend the couple were murdered there was an IMSA race at Talladega Motor Speedway. It be might be possible they attended the race and were on their way back home.
1. The most common theory is that the deceased were involved in drug smuggling and/or organised crime of some sort. This type of execution style murder is synonymous with a gang-land style hit which suggests that they were targeted. It wasn’t until several years later it was discovered that drug smuggling was running rampant within IMSA racing, which is referenced on the man’s shirst. In the 1980’s, several IMSA racers and race teams were convicted of taking part of a multi-million dollar criminal organisation that were smuggling tons of drugs into the United States. These racers and race teams had strong ties with organised crime and even with the CIA.
There was also an enormous amount of local corruption in this small area near where the bodies were found . Several prominent business men and politicians were implicated in at least three murder for hire schemes. These schemes implicated a local bank president, Charlie Dorn Smith, and a local Mayor, Clayton Bingham, among others. There was another incident just a few months prior to this murder in which a police chief was murdered by another officer in suspicious circumstances in Olanta, just a few miles from where the mystery couple were murdered.
2. The couple has already been identified and the government or rogue elements are keeping their identities a secret. The most recent lead from 2012 suggests that the mystery couple are Michael and Cordelia McMinn who were suspected of being highjacked near Washington state in June of 1976. This lead was relayed to local authorities, however, there has been no word of whether or not a comparison was done to confirm or deny this. Some amateur sleuthers have strong belief that the missing couple are not the deceased. The likeness between the McMinns and the unidentified couple is however, uncanny. According to NAMUS, the McMinn family submitted DNA for comparison but the results of that comparison has yet to be released. Another missing couple from Canada, Ron and Terry Yakimchuk who went missing in 1973, were also submitted for comparison and the results of that comparison have yet to be released either. Circa 2007 the bones of the Jane and John Doe were sent to an FBI lab at North Texas University, but it is not publicly known whether or not those bones yielded a viable DNA sample or if any effort has been made to test them.
Michael and Cordelia McMinn, Ron and Terry Yakimchuk
People who follow this theory have pointed to the litany of suspicious circumstances that surround this case which suggests that a coverup at some level has taken place. For instance, the NCIC information that was originally entered into that national database was mysteriously deleted and had to be re-entered at one point. The records regarding the watch’s serial number were destroyed. The records from a lead that indicated the couple were staying at a nearby KOA campsite were destroyed in fire. The teeth from the John Doe which had unique identifiers are missing. The dental records that were published in a national dental publication in attempt to identify the John Doe were published in an inverted fashion making them useless for identification. The murder weapon was found in George Henry’s possession, but he was never charged.
3. The couple were in the witness protection program. The government knows who the couple are and may have already notified the family. For some reason the government didn’t want to identify them at time, perhaps they didn’t want to jeopardize a bigger case or endanger undercover agents. If this is true, it is unclear as to why their unidentification persists today. Some suggest its to prevent embarrassment or due to the fact the government don’t have an obligation to identify them. Moreover, it could be that these murders are related to an organized crime case that has already been settled and the government would just prefer it to stay that way.
4. The couple were killed by their family for some reason. This might explain why the family has never came forward to identify them.
5. The couple were part of some covert military program.
6.The couple were fleeing Chile or Argentina during the Dirty Wars. The couple were described as having an olive skin tone, the Jane Doe had unshaven legs, and neither were wearing underwear which have lead many to speculate that they were from a South American country. A submission was filed on behalf of the couple César and María Marta Lugones, a young Argentinian couple.
In an interview with María’s mother with Adolfo Scilingo, an Argentinian military official who worked in the detention center ESMA in Buenos Aires during Argentina’s dictatorship. She says, “I showed him pictures of my daughter and her husband. He looked at Cesar’s picture for a moment and said “I’ve never seen him”. When he saw Maria’s picture, his face changed and became pale. He kept looking at her without saying anything – it was a second of intense waiting and fear, and soon he said to me: ‘You know that she is gone, but her son is alive”. It goes on to say – “He implied that Maria had been killed in the death flights (prisoners taken aboard aircrafts and pushed out into a river or the Atlantic Ocean). He gave me some names to contact to learn about my grandchild. I was shivering, I couldn’t believe what he was saying to me, how my daughter could have died like that. But now I am trying to find out why they took her, who gave the order, who carried out the order, what happened with her, where are her remains.”
César and María Marta Lugones
Additionally, María’s mother notes that Scilingo stated that he saw María pregnant in ESMA in December of 1976. There is controversy over whether Scilingo can be trusted but if we believe this to be true, and Scilingo’s date is exact, we could be inclined to believe that María died in Argentina and not in South Carolina, hence, she is not the unidentified . However, some sleuthers suggest that Scilingo recanted his confession and that the fate of the couple are unknown.
Other sleuthers suggest that the the Lugones fled to the U.S. during Argentina’s dictatorship and Christian Von Wernich, a priest who was complicit in the kidnappings and witnessed and possibly participated in the torture of those prisoners, and who had also been a friend of César’s brother, arranged for them to come to California. They may have been killed out of fear that they could testify to the torture and murder taking place in Argentina, and thus moved East for refuge until the Dirty Wars were over. Some others suggest that the couple were followers of a pair of Catholic priests in Argentina who were arrested as subversives and later released.
The Lugones were submitted for DNA analysis but there has been no update.
7.The couple were somehow associated with a mobster named John Roselli. Roselli was, perhaps, most known for his connection to the Kennedy assassination. He had testified before the Warren Commission that he believed rogue elements within the CIA in conjunction with the Mafia had been responsible for JFK’s assassination. The Warren Commission had wanted to recall Roselli for further testimony before he was found dead in a barrel near Miami. His case remains unsolved as well. Subscribers of this theory point to the fact that the body of Roselli was found floating in a bay near Miami the same day the couple were murdered, leading some speculate that there is a connection to the case. They also point to the fact the John Doe was wearing a shirt from Sebring, FL which is relatively close to Miami. Moreover, it is not uncommon for mafia style hits to be carried out in groups.