Penny and Michael Mims had a rocky relationship, laden with threats and arguments before the violent end of their marriage on Saturday, neighbors and police records indicate.
Michael Eugene Mims, 58, put a gun to his head around 9:30 p.m. and killed himself at the couple’s Parlor Drive home inside the Tranquil Hill community. His wife had been shot several times.
Tia Sumlin and her 11-year-old daughter were inside their townhouse across the street when the child looked out the window after she heard the neighbor’s dog barking, Sumlin said.
“She hollered at me and said she saw Penny running,” she said.
Sumlin, who then went outside, said the woman had run across the street and was screaming she had been shot. Another neighbor called 911.
Dorchester County sheriff’s investigators found Penny Mims’ trail of blood along the road and found her lying in the driveway with five gunshot wounds — two to the face, two to the chest and one to the arm.
“It appears she was shot inside the home and then went outside,” said Maj. John Garrison with the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators found Michael Mims dead inside the home. Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet ruled the death a suicide. Officials from Medical University Hospital, where Penny Mims was taken, would not comment on her condition.
Penny Mims told investigators her husband “shot her for no reason,” an incident report states.
The relationship was recently strained, neighbors said. According to Nisbet, Michael Mims mother died in March and Penny Mims was in the process of leaving her husband, something police records show she had done before.
Joanie Riggs, who lives down the street, said she was mortified by the shooting and “overly shocked.” But Sumlin was familiar with the couple’s marital troubles, which she frequently witnessed. Sumlin even called 911 on Jan. 11 when she claimed she saw Penny Mims pointing a gun at Michael Mims outside their home.
“They were in the garage and screaming at each other,” she said.
Penny Mims pointed the gun at his head and said she would kill him, according to Sumlin.
When deputies arrived, Penny Mims told investigators, “You’re arresting the wrong person,” the incident report states. She claimed her husband pushed and shoved her, citing past fights as well.
Michael Mims denied ever hitting his wife to investigators. He had been drinking before deputies arrived, the incident report states.
Penny Mims was arrested and charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. She was released on bail after spending about 20 hours in jail. A magistrate ordered that she was not allowed to return to the couple’s home except to pick up her belongings with an escort from the Sheriff’s Office.
The restriction was lifted by a judge just two weeks later, allowing Penny Mims to return home.
She pleaded guilty March 26 to third-degree assault and battery and was sentenced to time served and fined $55, court documents show.