Families of two slain women grappling for answers after first court appearance
Tears, hugs and lingering questions set a somber mood for the first court appearance of the men accused of taking two young women out into rural Berkeley County and shooting them to death.
Arthur Ray Chavis of Cordesville and Caleb Brad Matlock of Summerville, both 23, are accused of killing Dana Woods, 18, and June Guerry, 22, both of St. Stephen.
The men were up for a bail hearing Sunday but since a magistrate can’t set bail on a murder charge, they remain in jail.
Jennifer Hill, Dana Woods’ mother, fought back tears as each man stood in front of the judge. She said afterward that she still doesn’t know why the young women were shot.
“We can’t understand why, but it will come out in the end,” she said.
Carole Grunsky, the county’s victim advocate, spoke out for the families.
“In 20 years I’ve never felt so compelled to speak for … the victims,” she told Judge Markley Dennis. “We ask for justice, your honor.”
After the hearing, she declined to say why the girls might have been killed.
“When does stuff like this ever make sense?” she said. “It never makes sense.”
Investigators have declined to say who they believe pulled the trigger, which woman was shot first or why they might have been shot.
“We’re not going to release any specifics of the case until we talk to the solicitor,” Capt. Rick Ollic, head of the sheriff’s criminal investigative division, said after the bail hearing.
The tragedy brought together four families Sunday. The green cinderblock room was barely big enough to hold a dozen relatives, several deputies and half-dozen media representatives.
Matlock and Chavis were dressed in a bright orange jumpsuits and handcuffed around the wrists and ankles. Neither had anything to say other than answering the standard questions from the judge.
Dennis told each they would have to wait until an appearance in general sessions court for a chance to get out of jail. If they did get out on bail then, they were to have no contact with the families of the victims.
It was not Chavis’ first time in bond court. He was on probation for stealing tools from a neighbor when he was arrested and charged with two murders.
He was arrested on a similar theft charge about five months earlier but not convicted.
In the incident that put him on probation, Chavis and two friends stole a chain saw, skill saw and generator from a garage not far from where Chavis lives on Highway 402 on March 22, 2011, according to the report from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
While the men were there, they entered the crawl space between the garage and the house and ruined a skillet trying to cook in the kitchen and rented four adult movies on the satellite dish, the resident told deputies.
Chavis was convicted of third-degree burglary last October and given 18 months probation, 60 hours of public service and mandatory drug testing, according to court records.
About five months before that incident, Chavis and three others were arrested and accused of stealing a go-kart, scooter, log splitter and farm sprayer from a field in Alvin, according to the incident report from the sheriff’s office. Chavis was arrested and charged with grand larceny, but the case was not prosecuted, according to court records.
There is no indication that Matlock has a criminal record, according to checks with the State Law Enforcement Division and court records.
Woods and Guerry were last seen late Aug. 26, saying they were giving somebody a ride home.
Woods’ burned car was found Tuesday in the Francis Marion National Forest off Cane Gully Road in Cordesville. Her body was found later that day about 75 yards from the car.
Guerry’s body was found Wednesday in an old dirt pit off rural Greenwood Road in the Alvin area, about 10 miles from where the car was found.