In final phone calls, Berkeley County homicide victim said she was giving someone a ride
Just before midnight Sunday, Dana Woods called her boss and her mother to say that she and a friend, June Guerry, were giving someone a ride.
Want to help?
Donations can be made for both Dana Woods and June Guerry at any First Federal or Wells Fargo bank.
With Guerry tagging along, Woods had left her grandmother’s house that night and set out to pick up food at a Burger King in Moncks Corner, where the 18-year-old Woods once worked.
Restaurant employees recalled seeing the women, authorities said, but nothing stood out about them.
At some point after the stop, a man climbed into Woods’ compact Chevrolet Metro. In her final phone calls, the Trident Technical College student wasn’t specific about what she was doing next.
She said only that a friend of Guerry was with them and that they were headed to another fast-food restaurant, a McDonald’s.
Within days, the women’s bodies would be found, discarded in the Francis Marion National Forest. Both were shot to death.
“She didn’t mention any name of the person they were giving a ride to or where they were giving him a ride,” said Dan Moon, spokesman for the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. “We’re certainly working to figure that out.”
As an autopsy determined Guerry’s cause of death Thursday, investigators developed no suspects in the double homicide that has left Moncks Corner-area residents wondering whether a killer is in their midst.
Family members and friends have hinted on Facebook that the man who got into Woods’ car was a local and an acquaintance, but officials wouldn’t address any of those theories.
An incident report released Thursday complemented information provided by relatives and officials in reconstructing the women’s last moments.
The report named a friend of Guerry who lives off S.C. Highway 402, about a mile from where Woods’ body was found. The report also mentioned a friend of Woods who lives near the Felder Creek area of Jedburg, where records show that her phone was last used around 3:30 a.m. Monday.
Moon said detectives knew of “some people that could, maybe, possibly be involved.”
“But there’s a lot of speculation,” he said.
The car was found Tuesday demolished by fire and dumped off Cane Gully Road in the Cordesville community. Its owner, Woods, was found fatally shot 75 yards away.
About 10 miles to the northeast, off Greenwood Road in Alvin, a resident came across Guerry’s body Wednesday in a dirt pit. A shirt dangled from a nearby tree, possibly marking the burial site.
Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury wouldn’t discuss how many times Guerry was shot. Also unknown is whether she was slain at the dirt pit.
“We don’t actually know where she died,” Salisbury said. “We’re still investigating that.”
Both victims have been described by family members as straight-laced women and diligent employees. Woods, of St. Stephen, was a delivery driver for Papa John’s. Guerry, an Alvin resident, was a stock clerk at Walmart and the mother of a 2-year-old daughter.
“She wasn’t a drinker; she didn’t do drugs,” said Jennifer Hill of St. Stephen, Woods’ mother. “Neither of them did. They were both sweet and caring and loving girls.”
Hill said she was the last family member to speak with her daughter.
That was at 11:51 p.m. Sunday, just after Woods called and told her manager the same thing she would tell her mother minutes later, that she “was going to McDonald’s in Moncks Corner and giving someone a ride home.”
It couldn’t be determined Thursday why Woods called her boss.
When the women didn’t come home and phone calls went unanswered, Hill set out to find them early Monday. Just four hours after her final conversation with her daughter, Hill told a deputy about the disappearance.
“He said because they were adults we had to wait,” Hill said in a Facebook post.
Hill filed a missing-person report eight hours later and embarked on more searches that proved fruitless.
That same morning, Guerry’s future brother-in-law, Ernie Young, reported seeing Woods’ Chevrolet traveling over the Tailrace Canal, according to the report. A white man with short hair was at the wheel, but Young saw no sign of the women, the report said.
Moon said investigators couldn’t determine whether the car was Woods’. Distinct markings — such as two silver doors on an otherwise white vehicle and Sunoco, Avon and Carolina Girl stickers — would have helped distinguish it.
Reached Thursday, Young declined to comment.
“He turned around and followed the car,” Moon said. “But he lost it” near S.C. 402, which leads to Cane Gully Road and the scene where Woods’ body was found the next day.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.