A driver accused of running over a 17-year-old in Pineville earlier this week and leaving the crash scene tried to cover his tracks by burning his car, authorities said Friday.
But the flames didn't conceal the damage done to the vehicle, and it didn't throw off investigators who got helpful clues from an eyewitness.
The evidence that troopers gathered eventually led them to Brian Marryo Singleton, 32. He was arrested Tuesday and remained Friday at the Berkeley County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. The hit-and-run wreck killed Clyde Cleveland Jr. near his home in Pineville.
Also Friday, the county coroner explained why investigators left the scene at S.C. Highway 45 and Secondary Road 35 without finding Cleveland's severed leg. A neighborhood resident saw the limb in her front yard the day after the crash.
It happened around 9:30 p.m. Monday, when a sedan hit Cleveland as it passed another car in a passing zone, said Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly of the S.C. Highway Patrol. A witness in the other car remembered half of the sedan's tag number, she said.
Investigators also knew that the sedan was a Honda.
By matching the plate numbers to the vehicle's make, troopers were led to Singleton, Wimberly said. He was arrested early Tuesday morning, and the Honda was found that day abandoned in the Shulerville area, a small neighborhood off Highway 45 in the Francis Marion National Forest.
It had been set on fire.
"They tried to burn the whole car," Wimberly said. "But that doesn't help them much. You can still see the damage on the car."
Some area residents were critical about how investigators cleared the scene early Tuesday without finding the victim's leg.
Coroner Bill Salisbury and two deputy coroners worked there for more than four hours, he said Friday. They searched for the limb, which had been severed in the crash, but they eventually assumed that the perpetrator's car had dragged it away, Salisbury said.
Cleveland had been pronounced dead at the scene.
The leg was found early Tuesday morning under a boat in a neighboring yard when the homeowner, Shirley Lucas, returned from taking her boy to school.
Lucas was taken aback by the discovery, but she said she understood that authorities had searched for hours overnight.
"It was a shock that I saw it," Lucas said. "Besides that, it was just black-dark out that night. They were looking, but it was dark."
The leg ended up 100 feet from the crash site, Salisbury said. The impact likely had not thrown it that far, he said, but how it got there wasn't known.
The coroner also was involved in the search for the car.
"We combed the area," Salisbury said. "The car actually ran over the body.... We knew there was a lot of damage to the car, so it couldn't have gotten far."
Troopers suspected that Singleton had left the scene because he had a suspended driver's license.
He faces charges of driving under suspension, a misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of a crash involving death, a felony. If convicted of leaving the scene, he would face between one and 25 years in prison.
Singleton has past convictions for cocaine and marijuana possession, having an open alcohol container in a vehicle and hitting a fixed object along a highway and not reporting it.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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