2 indicted on murder charges
A Charleston County grand jury indicted two people on murder charges Tuesday in the mysterious slaying of Katherine Waring, whose remains were found four months ago in a patch of Wadmalaw Island woods.
Ethan Mack, 29, and Heather Angelica Kamp, 30, have been held since October on charges of forgery and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors sought murder charges after witnesses came forward implicating the pair in Waring's killing, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said at a news conference Tuesday.
With the indictments, Wilson's office also moved to lift a court-mandated gag order imposed in the case.
Although no cause of death has been determined, witnesses have convinced authorities that Waring's death was a homicide, Wilson said. She said the death was a "slow process" that took time, involving multiple means of assault. Waring was reportedly conscious and aware of most of what was happening, Wilson said.
Wilson said the "overwhelming" motive in the case would be financial gain, but "other threads" played a role, including jealousy on Kamp's part. Authorities allege that both suspects gave false statements about events on the night Waring was last seen, and that they forged checks drawn on Waring's account.
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said investigators know of three checks the pair allegedly tried to cash after Waring's death, including one for $4,500.
Wilson would not discuss who the witnesses are or specifics of what they told authorities. She said no deals had been cut in return for their testimony.
Shortly before Tuesday's news conference, a third suspect in the case, Terry Keith Williams, 31, of James Island, appeared before Magistrate James Gosnell, who reduced his bail on obstruction charges from $200,000 to $20,000, court records show. Prosecutors consented to the move.
Williams will be under house arrest upon his release and must report to his probation officer weekly; he had not posted bail as of late Tuesday.
A police affidavit stated that Williams is accused of helping to move Waring's body and then lying to police about how he ended up with her iPod. A witness told police that Williams received the iPod for helping Mack move her body, the affidavit stated.
Wilson said she doesn't anticipate charging others directly with Waring's killing, but the investigation is ongoing and authorities still are seeking more evidence. She anticipates the murder case against Mack and Kamp could go to trial in six to eight months.
Speaking on behalf of the victim's family, her father, Thomas Waring, released a brief statement on Tuesday's developments. "We have complete confidence in the authorities and refer any inquiries to them," he said.
Mack's lawyer, David Aylor, could not be reached for comment. Kamp's attorney, Frank Cornely, said he had not been invited to the press conference and he can't say much until prosecutors provide the defense with evidence against his client.
"We are excited about getting the discovery materials so we can have the same level of information the prosecutors have," he said. "As soon as they get that to us we will be able to respond to the statements made to the press today."
Waring, 28, lived with her parents on Murray Boulevard in Charleston. She vanished in June 2009 after visiting a West Ashley gym, a downtown drugstore and Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse.
She remained missing until Oct. 10, when a team of private investigators working on behalf of her family discovered her remains deep in the woods of a secluded gated community.
The find set off a squabble between the team and Charleston police, who seized the investigators' vehicle and the evidence inside. Lawyer Andy Savage, who hired the team on behalf of the Waring family, sued police and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, saying they had violated attorney-client privilege.
The lawsuit was later postponed indefinitely after both sides agreed to work with one another.
Mullen said he had no problem with the investigators and valued their contributions to the case. Police are bound by a stricter code of rules and they needed to act carefully to make sure they didn't compromise evidence or jeopardize the eventual prosecution of the case, he said.
Three of the private investigators watched Tuesday's news conference from the back of the room. They offered no comment afterward.
Mack of Johns Island and Kamp of James Island are being held in the county jail on $200,000 bail each. Wilson said she had no information on when bail hearings will be held on the murder charges.
The two suspects applied for a marriage license on Sept. 25, county records show. There is no record of the marriage taking place. Wilson said Kamp is not pregnant, as had previously been suggested.
Mack's attorney filed a motion in November seeking to split his trial from Kamp's, alleging that she had made incriminating statements against herself and Mack.
The same month, Circuit Judge Thomas Hughston ordered Kamp to submit to an evaluation by the state Department of Mental Health to determine whether she is competent to stand trial.
The judge's order states that Kamp "has a history of mental health issues" that could affect her competency and ability to assist in her own defense. Her court file does not contain the results of that evaluation.
Kamp has criminal records in four states, as well as a fugitive warrant for failing to appear on a charge in Myrtle Beach last year, authorities said.
The Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer Journal reported that Kamp also was involved in a bizarre case in Ephrata, Pa., last year. She was accused of passing herself off as a pediatrician and drawing blood from a 6-year-old girl she was baby-sitting, the newspaper reported.