More than a month after Katherine
Waring's remains were found on Wadmalaw Island, the investigation into her death remains shrouded in mystery with no clear indication as to how she met her fate.
More details were expected to emerge Tuesday during preliminary hearings for three suspects accused of hindering the police investigation into her disappearance and death. The proceedings, however, were canceled after defense attorneys waived their right to the hearings, which are held to determine probable cause in criminal cases, authorities said.
Police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and the Charleston County Coroner's Office will not discuss the case, citing an Oct. 13 gag order issued by Circuit Judge Markley Dennis.
It remains unclear how Waring died, whether her death involved foul play and whether additional charges are anticipated.
The gag order applies to everyone involved in the case, including witnesses and the victim's family. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson requested the gag order with the consent of defense attorneys, citing the potential for the case to receive "substantial local media coverage and additional national media coverage." Statements made outside of court could jeopardize "the fair administration of justice," attorneys asserted.
Such sweeping gag orders are somewhat rare in local criminal cases, and one open-records law expert questioned whether the order would hold up on appeal.
Jay Bender, an attorney for the South Carolina Press Association, said the judge likely has the authority to impose restrictions on lawyers involved in the case, but he is on rockier legal ground in trying to muzzle the coroner, police and the family. "It's extremely unusual," he said.
Dennis imposed the gag order the same day Charleston police and private detectives investigating Waring's death reached a detente, avoiding a messy legal battle over evidence seized in the case.
The squabble erupted Oct. 10 after a team of private detectives discovered Waring's remains deep in the woods of a secluded, gated community. She had been missing nearly four months at the time. Police seized the investigators' vehicle and the evidence inside. Lawyer Andy Savage, who hired the team on behalf of the Waring family, sued police and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, saying they had violated attorney-client privilege. The lawsuit was later postponed indefinitely after both sides agreed to continue working with one another.
Little has been said since Charleston police arrested a third suspect in the case on Oct. 22. Police wouldn't discuss why Terry Keith Williams, 31, of James Island is charged with obstruction of justice. But a police affidavit stated Williams is accused of helping to move Waring's body and then lying to police about how he ended up with her iPod. A witness told police Williams received the iPod for helping fellow suspect Ethan Mack with the body, the affidavit stated.
Mack, 29, of Johns Island and Heather Angelica Kamp, 30, of James Island were charged Oct. 7 with obstruction of justice and forgery in the case. They remain in jail with bail set at $200,000 each. The pair applied for a marriage license on Sept. 25, county records show. There is no record of the marriage taking place.
Mack has a pending concealed weapons charge from 2007, while Kamp has criminal records in four states, as well as a fugitive warrant for failing to appear on a charge in Myrtle Beach earlier this year, authorities said.
The Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer Journal reported that Kamp also was involved in a bizarre case in Ephrata, Pa., earlier this year. She was accused of passing herself off as a pediatrician and drawing blood from a 6-year-old girl she was baby-sitting. She allegedly gave the girl's parents medical advice and told them the blood test results revealed the child was bipolar and had low calcium levels, the newspaper reported.
When the parents couldn't verify her medical credentials, Kamp reportedly told them she was in the federal Witness Protection Program, the Intelligencer Journal reported. Ephrata police were looking to arrest Kamp when she vanished from the area, the newspaper reported.