Relatives doubt West Ashley man would kill mother, steal change
Sometime after the police say he shot his grandmother and left her bloodied body in bed, a West Ashley man plundered change that was stashed inside a safe in the same room, according to arrest affidavits.
The documents released Wednesday indicated that someone saw 21-year-old Walker Pinkleton steal the money Saturday even as 59-year-old Patricia Walker lay dead nearby. Authorities did not find the body until later the next day, after a concerned relative called the police.
That someone besides Pinkleton was in the house and that someone else once answered the phone when relatives tried calling are reasons why some think Pinkleton is innocent.
Catherine Brooks of Columbia, Walker’s mother, said her great-grandson was deceptive by saying Walker was only ill and “just lying there” for days, not dead in her bed. But Brooks doubted that he could have shot Walker in the head to fuel his drug habit — even though, she said, Pinkleton recently hit Walker and stole cash she kept in their Orange Grove Road house.
Brooks said that both Walker and Pinkleton recently expressed fear for their lives; Walker had a firearm for protection. But the threat’s source wasn’t known.
“We love him, and we don’t think he did it,” Brooks said Wednesday after a bond hearing for Pinkleton, who faces counts of murder and using a firearm in the crime. “We just want to know who did it and why they did it.”
Walker’s body was found Sunday after Brooks drove to Charleston because she hadn’t been able to talk with her daughter. An autopsy estimated that Walker was shot in the head sometime Friday night or Saturday morning.
An unidentified witness told the Charleston Police Department that Pinkleton cracked open his grandmother’s safe Saturday and “took a large amount of change,” affidavits stated. Another informant said he later exchanged the change for bills at two redemption machines.
During one of several attempts Brooks made to reach Walker, a man other than Pinkleton answered the phone Sunday and insisted that Brooks had dialed the wrong number.
Brooks also wondered whether a passenger in the SUV that Pinkleton was driving when he was arrested Monday had any involvement with the crime. The man was questioned but not arrested.
“The investigation is ongoing,” police spokesman Charles Francis said. “Police don’t have any additional suspects at this time.”
After Brooks drove to West Ashley on Sunday, she found her daughter’s Smart car parked in the driveway. It was unlocked, and four water bottles and loose change rested on the seat.
Brooks started doubting Pinkleton’s guilt when she thought back to a few weeks ago, when her great-grandson asked her for $300 to pay off a debt. Brooks wouldn’t give it to him.
That’s when Pinkleton told Brooks that he and his grandmother were in danger. But it was also around the time when Pinkleton hit his grandmother, causing a bruise on her leg, according to Brooks.
“She could never give him enough money,” Brooks said. “He always needed money.”
Loved ones described Pinkleton as a good person who got tangled in drugs and crime.
Before Walker adopted Pinkleton at age 4, acquaintances of his biological mother burned Pinkleton with lit cigarettes and melted plastic utensils, loved ones said. To this day, he takes medication for post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition he mentioned to a magistrate earlier this week.
Mary Parslow of James Island, who baby-sat Pinkleton from ages 5 to 13, said Walker always saw the sweet boy Pinkleton once was, instead of the troubled man he had become.
Walker and her husband provided him with all that he needed, Parslow said — and then some.
Walker drove him to Savannah because that’s where he could find his favorite Nike shoes. He preferred higher-priced clothing brands — Hollister, Ralph Lauren — and his adoptive parents paid for them.
But at 13, Pinkleton first tried marijuana, his family said. With drugs came anger issues — anger directed at his grandmother.
He bashed a family car with a sledgehammer, Parslow said.
He was suspended from school for behavior problems.
His parents gave him cars to drive. But after his arrests on charges of leaving a crash scene and possessing prescription drugs, his parents gave away his Chrysler PT Cruiser.
He somehow lost the scooter they bought as a replacement for the car.
After his burglary arrest in February 2010, he spent time in prison and rehabilitation facilities. When he returned home in the past year, Parslow said he seemed different. He didn’t smile as often. He angered easily.
But his parents stood by him.
“As much as Pat loved him and he loved her, there was always this conflict between the two of them,” Parslow said. “She would do everything she could for him, but it was never enough.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.