Police, family renew plea for information in Marley Lion’s death
In the weeks since Marley Lion was shot to death, detectives have pored over hours of surveillance footage from shops, gas stations and schools along West Ashley’s main thoroughfares.
People with information in the Marley Lion case should call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111 or file a tip on the Internet at www.5541111.com. Texters can send anonymous tips to CRIMES (274637). Mark the beginning of the message with “tip213.”
The case detective, Richard Burckhardt, can be contacted directly at 607-6787.
The Marley Lion Reward Fund, established by his parents and family friends, has boosted the Crime Stoppers reward to $13,000. Donations to the fund can be made at any CresCom Bank or through the link at www.justiceformarley.com.
They have attempted to drum up clues by interviewing dozens of community members.
They have fielded tips on hot lines and from people who walk into their stations.
They have photographed shoeprints near the murder scene, and they have scoured two murky ponds in the Ardmore neighborhood, where the killer retreated.
But it’s not enough.
In another plea Tuesday, police officials and relatives of the slain 17-year-old reiterated a call for those with knowledge of the killing to step forward.
For the first time, they offered a $13,000 reward and publicized a cellphone number for tipsters.
“If you know something and you’re not coming forward ... my son’s blood is on your hands,” Lion’s mother, Elizabeth Paige of Johns Island, said during a news conference. “You do not have to carry that burden.”
As a familiar video of the moment before her son’s shooting was played, Paige turned and buried her head into her husband’s neck. She grasped the locket around her neck. It held a lock of hair from her son, a recent high school graduate she called a “talented, caring, smart kid.”
Though it renewed attention for the case, the briefing provided no new insight into Lion’s killing or the ensuing investigation. Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen stressed an earlier appeal for people to identify the man who walked by Lion’s vehicle before the shooting on June 16.
Mullen said the media has focused too much on Lion’s killer, so he replayed a video of the potential witness “just so (the police department’s message) is clear.”
“He was right there in that parking lot,” he said. “We just want to talk to him.”
Minutes later, Lion was shot five times after a would-be burglar interrupted his sleep inside his SUV.
The gunman was captured on video apparently picking at a window when a security alarm sounds. He briefly backs away, then returns and fires.
Officers found Lion on the pavement outside his Nissan Pathfinder. He told them that he had parked outside Famous Joe’s Bar and Grill because he was too intoxicated to drive home.
Police reports indicated that the killer fled over a gravel path into the Ardmore neighborhood, then ran next to an apartment building on Yew Street. Crime-scene investigators noted evidence found in the mud.
On a fence line of a nearby day-care facility, the experts also found a shoeprint. Surveillance video taken from a nearby building captured “unknown figures” near that fence.
Footage also was gathered from buildings “up and down” Savannah Highway and Ashley River Road, said Richard Burckhardt, the case’s chief detective.
Detectives and patrol officers have swarmed Ardmore since the shooting, stopping residents and anyone they deem suspicious. Some of the interviews have been fruitful, officials said.
In order to further eliminate “red tape” for those volunteering information, Burckhardt aired a cellphone number that would link tipsters directly to him. Officials plan to offer the reporting route for future violent crimes.
“We’re positive that information is flowing,” Burckhardt said. “We need it to pick up.”
For a second day Tuesday, police crews in wetsuits and scuba gear scraped the bottom of a pond in Ardmore. “A piece of information” led them to scrutinize the location off Mulberry Street, Mullen said.
During the sometimes grueling and putrid operation, divers unearthed fishing reels, beer cans, wine bottles, an air pump, a rusty metal barrel and a hypodermic needle, though the chief wouldn’t say whether any discoveries were pertinent to their investigation.
Despite their forensic operations, investigators seem more certain that information leading to an arrest will come from a person.
About 75 people have donated $12,000 to the Marley Lion Reward Fund, which augments a standard Crime Stoppers reward of $1,000 for that information.
Lee Jamison, one of the fund’s organizers, said the drive continues to grow.
“There have been a lot of people who didn’t know Marley but got wind of it and wanted to donate,” Jamison said. “The police said it would help find who did this. That’s the goal.”
Lion’s death, one of three homicides citywide in recent weeks, was part of the impetus behind a crime-fighting initiative announced last week. “Stand Up Charleston” intends to instill a sense of duty among residents to report criminal or suspicious activity.
Mayor Joe Riley repeated that message with greater urgency Tuesday, saying the “vicious, brutal, awful person” who killed Lion “will hurt someone else.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.