A woman died of a gunshot wound before a passenger train hit her as she lay on the railroad tracks near the Ferndale neighborhood earlier this month, authorities said.
For 12 days, the woman's identity and how she died remained a mystery. Wednesday, the Charleston County Coroner's Office identified her as Margaret Christene Molina, a 31-year-old from Oregon. Police also announced a murder charge against a 30-year-old Kershaw man recently arrested in connection with several armed robberies.
"Her actual cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner has been ruled a homicide," Coroner Rae Wooten said. "She was traveling through the area, the best we could tell."
Molina was lying on the tracks between Railroad and Gaynor avenues when the southbound Amtrak train hit her around 5 a.m. Sept. 7.
That same day, Charleston police arrested the man who would become a suspect in her death. Officers responded to the armed robbery of a Sam Rittenberg Boulevard Radio Shack around 1 p.m. and soon found Dale Warsop Jr., 30, hiding behind a nearby shed.
In custody, Warsop confessed to several robberies in Lancaster and York counties, as well as the Sept. 6 robbery of the Kwik Fill convenience store in Hanahan, Charleston police said.
North Charleston police think Warsop and Molina traveled to the Lowcountry together from the Upstate. They were visiting people in the Ferndale neighborhood near Rivers and Montague avenues, Capt. Marie Henderson said.
"We have received several statements that he was an acquaintance of Molina," Henderson said. They think Warsop shot Molina at the railroad tracks between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Henderson described the incident as "intimate partner violence" and said the two arrived in the Lowcountry a few days before the homicide.
Warsop appeared in Charleston County bond court Wednesday, largely a formality because a magistrate cannot set bail on a murder charge. He spoke evenly and clearly, telling Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin that he lived in Kershaw with his wife and two children.
Warsop has been convicted of discharging a firearm into a dwelling, carrying a concealed weapon, criminal domestic violence and resisting arrest, State Law Enforcement Division Records show.
He was out on $40,000 bail after being arrested in January on a charge of inflicting bodily harm to a child, a Lancaster County Sheriff's spokesman told The (Rock Hill) Herald newspaper.