Charleston County sheriff’s deputies are investigating a Johns Island murder from the 1990s that only recently came to light through a prison tip, Sheriff Al Cannon said.
Cannon said his office was recently contacted after a prison inmate in Georgia told authorities her uncle had killed her grandfather, David Shand, about 20 years ago.
The uncle, Jason Shand, had since died in a 2005 single-car crash in Berkeley County, so deputies went to the home of the missing grandfather on Johns Island, Cannon said. There, the missing man’s wife, Phyllis Shand, insisted her husband had just wandered off four or five years ago and she had not heard from him since, he said.
She had also told people he had died in a Veterans Administration Hospital in Florida, but there is no record of such a death, deputies said.
Detectives got a search warrant for the couple’s Patton Avenue home and found what appeared to be blood inside the house, Cannon said.
After telling a number of stories related to her husband’s absence, Phyllis Shand finally told deputies she believed her husband had been killed by her son, Cannon said.
She told deputies that her husband had been abusive and forced her into a bedroom in their home for three days at gunpoint, Maj. Jim Brady said.
One night, Jason Shand arrived and confronted his father. Phyllis Shand told deputies she heard them arguing outside the bedroom and then heard gunshots, he said.
Jason Shand then opened the door and told his mother, “You won’t see him again. He’s gone,” authorities said.
Phyllis Shand, 71, surrendered to deputies this morning to face an obstruction of justice charge. A bond hearing was held at 9:30 a.m. resulting in $10,000 bail. She has since been released from jail.
Investigators have not yet found the remains of David Shand. His wife told deputies she doesn’t know what became of him, and his family has been uncooperative, Cannon said.
David Shand, a military veteran who had worked in the billiards trade, has not been seen since 1992, but no one had filed a missing person’s report or expressed alarm at his prolonged absence, Cannon said.
There were no prior reports of domestic violence between Shand and his wife, Cannon said.
The tip that cracked the case came from a Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office interview with Jennifer McGahee, the alleged murder victim’s granddaughter who told a deputy that he had been slain.
McGahee, who lives in Covington, Ga., was last jailed by Gwinnett County authorities in early May on a charge of theft by receiving stolen property, according to court records there.
This afternoon at Phyllis Shand’s home on Patton Avenue, a woman who answered the door shooed away a reporter and said Phyllis Shand, who had been asleep on the couch, had no comment.
One woman whose mother lives across the street said she knew David Shand just in passing during the 1990s.
The woman declined to be named.
She said her oldest brother often went fishing with David Shand, but like many residents in the area, the woman said, she knew little about him. She thought he had died of natural causes two decades ago and knew that his son, Jason, had died a car wreck when he was 34, the woman said. Jason Shand’s obituary, which is published online, refers to his father as the “late” David Shand.
Phyllis Shand has health complications now, the neighbor added.
Other residents said they hadn’t been living in the community long and knew little about the family.
Most reported seeing sheriff’s cars and crime-scene investigators gathered at the home a few weeks ago and said they later learned about the alleged crime before the Sheriff’s Office made it public today.
The single-story house has a fenced-in backyard. In front, a dream catcher dangled from the awning, a face chiseled in stone sat on a pedestal, and a cat scampered past a birdbath that included the statue of a heron.
Investigators are asking anyone with information on the case to contact detectives at 202-1700 or Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.