Whitmore Richardson sat in the shade on his James Island home’s front step Monday, sipping a Pepsi and pondering why one of his grandsons had been slain and why another had been arrested for murder.
Adrian L. Lyles Jr., 24, whom Richardson raised, was kidnapped from his apartment Wednesday and taken to a remote driveway on Wadmalaw Island, where he was shot several times in the back.
The Army veteran’s first cousin, 26-year-old Kevin Lamar Howard, faces charges of burglary, kidnapping and murder. Deputies said someone else might have been involved, but that person wasn’t named.
Richardson, 72, who once housed both Lyles and Howard in his Westmoreland Drive home, said some disagreement had come between the two, though he wasn’t specific. He thinks Lyles said something that his cousin took offense to.
“I’ve been trying to figure out what would cause a first cousin to even attempt to do bodily harm to another cousin,” Richardson said. “I love them both. But the only thing I can see is that there has been a murder, and somebody has got to pay for it.”
Howard, a felon, was arrested during a traffic stop Sunday night by a Summerville police officer, who had noticed him riding without a seat belt.
In an incident report, the officer said Howard was nervous and tried to lie about his identity. He told the officer that he was from North Carolina and “was in town for the funeral,” the report said.
The officer determined his real name and that the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office had issued a warrant for his arrest in Lyles’ death.
The car’s driver, Broderick William Seay Jr., 20, of Burger Street in Charleston, was arrested on a charge of giving false information to the police.
On Monday afternoon, members of Lyles’ family streamed into the Westmoreland Drive home where he was raised, offering condolences to his grandfather.
One of them talked of Lyles’ aspirations to become a rap star. Lyles, who called himself “AJ,” wrote many poems and even recorded a song.
Another, a member of New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church, which Lyles attended, recounted when Lyles returned from a two-year stint in the Army.
“When he came back from the military, he made sure to seek me out and give me my favorite hug and kiss,” Barbara Metz, 70, said. “He was sweet and kind.”
Lyles’ mother spoke with well-wishers at Richardson’s home, but she declined to comment.
It was at her Ashley Hall Plantation Road apartment where the incidents that led to her son’s death began Wednesday night.
Deputies pieced together information from witnesses who said one of the kidnappers punched Lyles at the doorway around 10 p.m., then shoved him into the unit, according to an affidavit. Lyles’ mother was not home.
“The witness heard a struggle inside the apartment and a few minutes later, the subjects forced the victim … into a gray sedan,” the document states.
Chief Deputy John Clark said the abduction wasn’t reported Wednesday night because no one witnessed the entire episode or realized that a crime was taking place.
Clark said there was physical evidence of a kidnapping.
“There are things that concern us, like the way he was dressed,” Clark said. “He didn’t have any shoes, which leads us to believe he didn’t go willingly.”
Lyles’ body was found early the next morning on Grans Avenue, a dirt-surfaced, private road on Wadmalaw Island.
Deputies believe he had been shot multiple times in the back.
Clark said residents in the area told deputies that they heard several gunshots before 11 p.m. Wednesday. They were not reported to authorities at the time.
Lyles, who does not have a criminal record, graduated from James Island Charter High School, then enlisted in the Army.
Richardson said Lyles left the military because he feared that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan would only worsen.
“It’s ironic that there are more people getting killed here,” he said. “It seems like every day you look in the paper, someone is getting shot.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.