Charleston County sheriff’s deputies on Friday came closer than ever to filing murder charges in the 2011 slaying of 5-year-old Allison Griffor when they identified four men suspected in her death.
During a news conference, Sheriff Al Cannon identified the suspects in the ongoing homicide investigation as Shyrome Jaquane Johnson, 25, of Mosstree Road in North Charleston; Philip Moses, 26, of Ashley Hall Plantation in Charleston; Franklin Glover, 30, of Cedar Petal Lane in Charleston; and Levell Leonard Grant, 27, of North Jupiter Hill Road in Adams Run.
Each of the men had been in and out of jail in the years since Allison’s death, Cannon said.
Warrants for murder have not been filed, though that is the office’s intention, Cannon said.
Griffor was fatally wounded by a shotgun blast around 1 a.m. Oct. 25, 2011, at her family’s home on Pierpont Avenue.
Cannon referred to the incident as a “botched home invasion” as investigators believe the shooter targeted the wrong house.
The announcement came a day after deputies arrested Johnson on an obstruction of justice charge.
“This is a step in the ongoing investigation into the murder of this little girl,” Cannon said. “We feel as though it is a significant step, but I want to emphasize that it is a charge of obstruction of justice and does not yet put us in a position to charge anyone with murder. But we are focused on the individuals as the suspects in this case and are moving to develop a case against them.”
Allison’s father, William Griffor, was also wounded during the shooting. He and his wife, Jennifer, took their two surviving children back to their home state of Michigan shortly after the attack.
Investigators questioned Johnson shortly after the shooting, but he denied knowing anything about the shooting, according to an arrest affidavit.
While in a North Charleston police cruiser in July 2014 for an unrelated arrest, Johnson was “caught on tape admitting to giving us the runaround for the past three years and lying about the information he had provided,” Cannon said.
Investigators later conducted a taped interview with Johnson, during which he conceded that he was in a car near the house, that he knew the men who approached the home and that he heard the gunfire, the affidavit stated.
Johnson also identified the other three men as being involved, Cannon said.
Investigators did “much to vet and to strengthen the information,” before filing the obstruction charge, he said.
Johnson was being held Friday at the Charleston County jail on $200,000 in bail.
Grant also was being held at the jail on unrelated armed robbery and assault charges stemming from an arrest in North Charleston, Charleston County jail records show.
Moses and Grant both pleaded guilty in September 2013 to second-degree burglary, non-violent, and strong-arm robbery charges related to another West Ashley home invasion that occurred three days before the Griffor incident.
Moses was sentenced to six years with credit for two years served and is out on probation, records show. Grant also received credit for time served.
Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas said after the news conference that challenges to solving the case couldn’t all be placed on Johnson’s shoulders.
He vowed that anyone else who hindered the investigation moving forward would face similar charges.
“Four years later, we’re working it just as hard as we did four years ago,” Lucas said.
Reading from a statement that he co-wrote with the Griffors, family friend Richard Douglas said they are hopeful that Johnson’s arrest would shed more light on the “unthinkable actions” that claimed Allison’s life.
“Time has not healed anything and the family believes that justice is best served by God,” Douglas read. “We pray that Shyrome Johnson will do the right thing and give the Griffor family some peace and knowledge that those who committed this sin shall be held accountable for their actions very soon.”
Dave Munday contributed to this report. Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908.