Friend texted Wadmalaw shooting victim night before body was found
In the nine years they have been friends, Cierra Smalls and Adrian Lyles had never ended a conversation without saying goodbye.
That’s why Smalls knew something was wrong when a text message went unanswered at 9:12 p.m. Wednesday.
She said, “Hey.” He said, “Hey.” She asked, “What are you doing?”
“But that was the last text message,” Smalls said. “We’re always saying ‘later’ or ‘bye or ‘talk to you later.’ It was out of the norm.”
Now detectives from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office are trying to piece together what happened to Lyles, a 24-year-old James Island resident, later that night.
His body was found about 7 a.m. Thursday on a driveway leading to homes north of Bears Bluff Road on Wadmalaw Island. He had been shot in the back, according to an incident report.
Capt. Eric Watson, a sheriff’s spokesman, said multiple shell casings were found in the remote, wooded area near Church Creek. He would not say what kind of firearm was used.
“We have sufficient evidence to indicate he was killed right there were he was found,” Watson said. “But we have no suspects at all.”
Watson said Lyles likely came from his James Island home by vehicle, but it isn’t known why he was in that area of Wadmalaw Island.
A resident found his body at the fork of two private driveways; it’s not known how long he had been dead. “Other than an apparent gunshot wound, there were no other notable injuries from a struggle,” Watson said.
Lyles worked two stints as a part-time employee in an assisted-living facility in the Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community on Wadmalaw Island.
Kimberly Farfone, a spokeswoman for the community, said he was rehired in August after some time in the Army.
“He was always incredibly responsible and an overall great guy to work with,” Farfone said. “He was so well-liked that we welcomed him back after the military.”
Smalls, 22, had known Lyles since they met in high school. She described him as straight-laced, and she said she couldn’t fathom why someone would hurt him.
“I never had conflicts with him,” Small said. “He’s just an all-around good person.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414.