MOUNT PLEASANT — As Los Angeles residents, Judy and Bill Farley became used to hearing news about homicides.
But in the two years since they moved to the Charleston National subdivision in Mount Pleasant, they had not once heard the words homicide and the name of their new town mentioned in the same sentence. That began to change on Tuesday — Christmas Day — when police came to their door to notify them that their next-door neighbor was dead.
The neighbor, Anthony Chiaramonte, 73, of 3249 Heathland Way, died of blunt-force trauma, Charleston County Chief Deputy Coroner Judy Koelpin said Wednesday. A day earlier, authorities said only that Chiaramonte's death was under investigation.
The Farleys said that Chiaramonte lived with a younger man, whom they identified as Charles Piercy. A Pekinese named Anastasia also lived in the home. The two men "were as quiet as can be," and pretty much kept to themselves, the Farleys said.
Mount Pleasant police released no information on Tuesday, and the day after shared only a sparsely worded press release.
"We're sending a fax and that's all the information we're going to release," Capt. Stan Gragg said Wednesday afternoon.
Late Wednesday, police found a Toyota Solara with South Carolina license plate 349-KET at the Towne Centre mall on U.S. Highway 17. Police did not say how the car might be related to the case, but Charleston County tax records list an Anthony Chiaramonte II as the owner of a Solara, as well as the home where the killing occurred.
The Farleys said they often saw the vehicle at the home, and believe it was driven by Chiaramonte.
Once in awhile the Farleys saw the two men next door in their yard. The two men seemed to make no efforts to be social with the neighbors, the Farleys said.
"They were very quiet and we didn't know them well," Bill Farley said. "You rarely even know they were there. It could have been a vacant house for all you know," he added.
The two-story home with a brick facade is similar to other ones that fill the gently curving streets in the golf-oriented community. It appeared well-tended and had Christmas lights showing through some windows, and a Christmas tree well lighted in a second-story window.
Police would not say who contacted them, but said they were dispatched to a suspicious death at 4:26 p.m. Tuesday.
The Farleys said they had been away from home most of the day Tuesday, and at 5:30 p.m. saw police officers and Piercy walking to their door. Bill Farley recalled that police told him Chiaramonte was dead, apparently of natural causes. Police also told the Farleys that Chiaramonte's car was missing.
Piercy, who owns a cleaning business, said he had been out of town for several days, the Farleys said.
Records show there has not been a homicide inside Mount Pleasant town limits since 2003. But a slaying right next door is very unsettling to the Farleys.
"It's kind of odd. We didn't pay attention to homicides in L.A. But if there's a violent crime next door, it does raise a certain level of concern," Bill Farley said.
"This is a bad deal," Judy Farley said. "I don't want that next door to me. Yesterday I was fine, but every moment I am getting worse," she added.
In 2003, 39-year-old Robert Kinneman was shot and killed by his roommate while lying in bed at home in the Wando East subdivision.
Brad Lindsey, a 32-year-old drifter who had been living at Kinneman's less than 10 days, was later arrested in Asheville, N.C. Convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole, Lindsey committed suicide at Lieber Correctional Institution in September 2005.
Before that, the most recent homicide in the town was on July 8, 1999, when James Phillip Campbell, 22, of Park Pond Circle was shot to death.
The Farleys said Mount Pleasant police have maintained a high profile in the neighborhood. "We are very confident in Mount Pleasant police," Bill Farley said. "It's not like in L.A., where the only time you talk to a police officer is when they are putting the cuffs on you."