When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sumter, SC

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If you have been accused and charged with a crime you are in need of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC. Having a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side is key in order to protect your freedoms and to ensure that a proper legal defense is built to shield you. Dealing with legal charges in Sumter can be a highly distressing ordeal with even minor violations causing considerable impact on an individual's personal and work life. The repercussions of having a criminal record can be severe, leading to loss of employment, severed relationships and alienation from loved ones.

At Theos Law Firm we offer trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. Our criminal defense team has over 50 years of combined experience and is committed to ensuring our clients maintain their freedom and move forward with their lives. From handling drug-related charges to more nuanced federal cases, sexual misconduct offenses and murder cases, we take a personalized approach to every case. By utilizing cutting-edge legal strategies and decades of combined experience, we provide the best opportunity to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Service Areas

We help clients overcome criminal charges in a wide range of cases, including the following:

  • Homicides
  • Drug Crimes
  • Juvenile Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
  • Misdemeanor Offenses
  • Federal Offenses
  • More

If you are facing one or more of the charges above, it's imperative that you establish contact with a legal advocate ASAP. At Theos Law, you can rest easy knowing our phone line is always open. When your future is up for grabs, let our team of criminal defense lawyers fight for your rights. It all starts with a free consultation at our law firm in Sumter where we will educate you on the particulars of the charges you're facing and explain the next steps in our representation.

At this point, you probably have many questions in mind. Keep reading for more information on criminal law in South Carolina and some of our criminal defense specialties at Theos Law.

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Understanding Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, criminal cases are classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, offenses that carry a maximum penalty of less than one year are considered misdemeanors. On the other hand, crimes that carry a punishment of more than one year in prison are generally classified as felonies.

State and Federal Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

Crimes in The Palmetto State are usually split into three categories: (1) Magistrate or Municipal Level Offenses; (2) General Sessions or Circuit Court State Charges; and, (3) Federal Crimes. Classifications are based on which prosecuting body has jurisdiction to prosecute a particular charge or offense. Regardless of which court your criminal charge is in, the Theos Law Firm has decades of experience protecting individuals from prosecution and assuring that the best possible outcome is achieved.

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The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in South Carolina

Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime can be challenging for someone facing their first charge. Misdemeanors are generally considered minor offenses, and can result in punishment by incarceration up to one year.

Conversely, felonies are more severe crimes which are punishable by incarceration of more than one year. Those charged with a felony may face significant fines and a prison sentences of over a year in a federal or state institution. Convicted felons may face difficulties after their release such as losing the right to vote and the right to carry a firearm. These penalties make it crucial to have a reliable criminal defense attorney in Sumter, SC.

Plea Deals in South Carolina

It is not uncommon for legal cases to be resolved without a trial through a plea deal. In order to assure that the best possible plea deal become available it is crucial for your legal defense to properly build your defense and prepare your case for trial. Deciding to represent yourself or not hiring the best legal team will likely result in exposure to unnecessary penalties, fines and jail time.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sumter, SC?

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At Theos Law Firm, we often receive questions from potential clients about when they should hire a criminal defense attorney for the charges that they're facing. Although each situation and client are unique, there are some common criminal situations to keep in mind. In general, it's always best to reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as you're charged or have been arrested.

Below are some guidelines to help you decide when it's necessary to retain a criminal defense attorney for your case in South Carolina.

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When You've Been Accused or Charged

Thinking about hiring a criminal defense lawyer when you're charged with a crime is a no-brainer for most, and for good reason. Our team of experience criminal defense attorneys can offer assistance with various offenses, ranging from minor crimes to more serious ones such as sexual assault and manslaughter. Regardless of the charges, navigating the legal system can be complex, and without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the situation can escalate rapidly. It is critical that you engage an experienced attorney as soon as possible!


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When Investigators or Police Question You

As you may have observed in movies or television shows, the police might request you to provide a statement, giving the impression that you are not under arrest. Remember, it is within your rights to have a criminal defense attorney in Sumter, SC, present during questioning, and you should absolutely use that to your advantage. If possible, consult with an attorney before answering any questions or participating in any discussions with law enforcement.


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When Authorities Search Your Residence

In the event that law enforcement officers arrive at your residence with a warrant, it indicates that a judge has determined there is reasonable suspicion that evidence related to a criminal offense is present in your home. Regardless of whether they discover and confiscate anything, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a seasoned defense attorney to discuss the situation and receive assistance in determining any potential charges or locations they may investigate in the future.


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When You Are Wrongly Accused of Committing a Crime

Could you imagine being accused of something you didn't do? When you are accused or charged with committing a crime that you didn't commit defending yourself may seem straightforward but it can be an arduous task to see to it that the charges are timely resolved. It can also feel hopeless and like it's impossible for you to get someone to listen to your side. The truth is that anything you say or do can and will be used against you. To increase your chances of being cleared of charges, it's advisable to have a defense lawyer who can support your innocence and fight for your rights. Criminal defense attorneys at Theos Law don't just listen - we act swiftly and always with your best interests at heart.


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When Your Child Is Involved

The legal system for juveniles in South Carolina is different than it is for adults. It comes with its own complications and hurdles to overcome. If you your child has been accused of a crime it's imperative to get legal counsel swiftly. Failure to do so could be destructive to your child's life, your family or result in a exposure to jail time. Keep reading to learn more about just a few of the most common criminal defense cases we accept at Theos Law Firm.

Criminal Defense for DUIs in South Carolina

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In terms of common criminal offenses in South Carolina, DUIs top the list, especially regarding mindful drivers with clean driving records and no criminal history. Unfortunately for these drivers, a DUI conviction in South Carolina stays on your record and cannot be expunged. Even first-time offenses with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent can be costly. Your insurance premiums go up for years, you may end up paying almost $1,000 in fines and fees, and there's a good chance you'll have to perform community service or serve jail time.

If your breathalyzer test result is more than .15%, you refuse the breathalyzer, or it is recorded as a refusal, your license will be automatically suspended, which complicates matters further. Throw in the possibility of interlock device rental, and your life may never be the same. For those reasons alone, it is crucial to approach such charges with the help of a DUI defense lawyer. At Theos Law Firm, our attorneys have years of experience in successfully fighting these types of charges.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, there is hope. That's especially true if the accused has undergone a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve such tests are successfully beaten every day. At Theos Law Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your DUI case in Sumter and explore every possible angle to have it dismissed.

To begin that process, your criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC, may seek answers to many questions, including:

  • Was your DUI stop legal? If not, your case could be thrown out.
  • Is there enough probable cause or evidence for an arrest? If there is not, it's possible to file a pre-trial motion for your case to be dismissed.
  • Did officers explain implied consent rights? One of the most common errors police make is failing to take this step.
  • Did the police maintain your BAC and breathalyzer results? Breath testing often comes with inherent weaknesses. This can create doubt in a juror's mind.
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Criminal Defense for Drug Cases in South Carolina

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If you are dealing with drug-related crimes in Sumter or another city in South Carolina, it is crucial for you to understand the potential penalties involved. Possession of a controlled substance may fall under the category of a misdemeanor, but many drug offenses are considered felonies. Even a minor drug offense conviction can result in long-lasting negative consequences. As such, it's always advisable to explore your options and seek the assistance of a Sumter drug crime attorney. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help safeguard your rights and may help achieve a favorable outcome.

One of the most frequent questions we hear at Theos Law is, "What does possession mean?"

Drug charges based on possession in South Carolina are divided into three categories:

  • Simple Possession
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Trafficking

However, the state also has other drug charges that are not based on the weight of the drugs. These include:

  • Drug Distribution
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution Near Schools, Parks, or Playgrounds
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Possession-based drug charges in South Carolina are deemed "graduated offenses" with penalties that grow more severe based on the weight of the drugs. It's important to note that the charges can be based on either actual or constructive possession. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC, today to learn more about the complexities involved with drug cases in Sumter and other cities in South Carolina.

Some of the most common drug charges we see at Theos Law include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD and Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription Pain Killers
  • Fentanyl
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Can I be Arrested for Drug Paraphernalia in South Carolina?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding "Yes." Drug paraphernalia can refer to various items such as pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, grinders, and rolling papers which are linked to drug usage, preparation, storage, or hiding. Even though some of these items may have legitimate uses, like tobacco pipes or medical syringes, they can still be scrutinized by law enforcement if there is proof of illegal drug use or intent.

Criminal Defense for Assault and Battery Cases in South Carolina

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If you are facing assault and battery charges, it is possible that you haven't actually physically harmed someone. Many people associate assault and battery with brutal beatings, but that is just one example. There are other situations that are less severe than what people typically imagine.

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It's a common misunderstanding that physical injury is required for assault and battery charges. The fines, penalties, and jail time you may face depend on the severity of your charges and the number of offenses. Regardless of the degree of your charges, Assault and Battery is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. The consequences of a conviction can be life-changing, and as such, your criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC, should work relentlessly to fight the charges being levied against you.

Though this list isn't comprehensive, here are some of the biggest factors that dictate the severity of your assault and battery charges:

  • Age of Victim
  • Severity of Injuries Sustained
  • Size and Weight of Accused vs. Size and Weight of Victim
  • Whether or Not the Victim Presses Charges
  • Whether or Not Weapons Were Involved
  • Whether or Not the Victim's Privates Were Touched

Understanding the Degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina

Third Degree

Causing harm to someone or threatening to do so with the ability to carry out the threat can result in a charge of third-degree assault and battery. This misdemeanor offense is typically heard in municipal or magistrate courts and may carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.

Second Degree

Causing harm or making threats to harm someone that results in moderate bodily injury can lead to charges of second-degree assault and battery. Additionally, touching someone's private parts without their consent can also result in charges of assault and battery in the second degree. This misdemeanor offense is heard in General Session court and can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

First Degree

Assault and Battery in the first degree can involve a number of actions such as inflicting an unlawful injury when kidnapping, touching a person's privates "with lewd and lascivious intent," and much more. Contact Theos Law Firm for more info on the degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina.

Everyone Deserves a Reliable Criminal Defense Attorney in Sumter, SC

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At Theos Law firm, we work tirelessly to ensure that our client's rights are not overlooked. Because unfortunately, the rights of everyday citizens are often trampled by law enforcement oversights and legal system failures.

That's why every criminal defense lawyer at our firm works hard to provide guidance and support throughout the legal process by keeping you informed of updates and as comfortable as possible during this trying time. Benefits of hiring Theos Law Firm include:

  • Thorough Knowledge of South Carolina Criminal Law & Procedures
  • Seasoned Legal Representation in the Courtroom
  • Years of Experience Structuring Plea bargains
  • Ability to Identify Due Process Violations
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients & Vigorous Representation
  • Skilled Negotiation Tactics Involved with Bail, Sentencing, Appeals, and More
  • Familiarity with Local Prosecutors

Unlike some criminal defense law firms in South Carolina, our team believes that everyone deserves a great lawyer when their freedoms are on the line. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in South Carolina, trust Theos Law to have your back without judgment.

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Latest News in Sumter, SC

A look at how the Sumter School District scored in annual testing

Alice Drive Elementary School received an "excellent" score of 71 in the South Carolina Readiness Assessment report cards. On Wednesday, staff celebrated.SUMTER, S.C. — South Carolina Ready Assessment report cards have been released showing how schools are performing all over the state. One elementary school in Sumter is celebrating an “excellent” score.“This is a great thing for ...

Alice Drive Elementary School received an "excellent" score of 71 in the South Carolina Readiness Assessment report cards. On Wednesday, staff celebrated.

SUMTER, S.C. — South Carolina Ready Assessment report cards have been released showing how schools are performing all over the state. One elementary school in Sumter is celebrating an “excellent” score.

“This is a great thing for Sumter School District,” Alice Drive Elementary School parent and teacher Holly Williamson shares. “And we need some positivity around Sumter, so this is really good. So I'm so happy for Alice Drive.”

The school is celebrating its newest score from the state department of education, designated as “excellent.”

“When we all come together, that's when we get excellence. So that's why I'm so proud. I feel like this is a whole community that could feel really, really proud of itself for what we've accomplished,” Principal Eric Masaitis says. “I feel like it really makes a difference in the community not only to be proud of the school, but to know that that trust is there. And when the community sees that a school is doing well, they're more likely to trust the school and to trust the teachers. And that takes a little bit of load off teachers who are already working really hard.”

Masaitis says this score, a 71, is up from last year’s score of 59. It measures how students are performing in grades three through eight, tracking their progress in reading, math and science, which Director of Testing and Accountability for Sumter School District Lamont Moore says is important.

“We don't just want to assess our students and never respond to it. Looking at data requires a response and so in order to do that, we have to make sure that we are looking at it on a regular basis, that our teachers know how to analyze it, our leaders know how to analyze it, we're having joint conversations about it, and we're putting in some some interventions and plans in place to respond to it,” Moore says.

Looking at trends across the district for the South Carolina Ready Assessment, the percentage of scores that did not meet expectations lowered across all grade levels in English. In math, the percentage lowered for all grades except 7th and 8th where it increased slightly.

A different set of statistics came out that measures test scores in algebra, biology, English and US history among high schoolers for spring 2023. Each category is up from the previous year, but the only category that is above pre-pandemic scores in 2019 is English. The other three subjects are testing just below.

“We're excited because we're closing the gap and not only that we're going to the next level and pushing our students higher than what they were before this COVID-19 thing happened with us,” Moore says.

When it comes to future plans, Moore says “we're just looking to start having more detailed data dialogue within our schools and getting more personalized with our approach so that every student knows where they need to go to be successful.”

“I heard a quote recently. It says, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ And I love that because we can strategize all we want but if we don't have a culture where we expect excellence all the time from our teachers and from our students, then none of the strategies you put in place are going to work,” Masaitis says. “That's our strategy moving forward is to keep our culture and just keep improving one student at a time.”

According to Masaitis, Alice drive is the first elementary school in Sumter School District to receive an excellent score since 2012.

When asked what the school district credits for the increase in test scores from last year, the district says schools had “an intentional instructional focus that included data disaggregation, student engagement, and additional ELEOT observations, which are student centered observations.”

“We are not perfect. We still have ways to go. But we're showing progress and have a great team,” Moore says.

Sumter lands $66M plant – here’s what it will make

SEM Wafertech Inc. and Solar4America Technology Inc., both owned by renewable energy company SPI Energy Co. Ltd., will establish a presence in South Carolina with a $65.9 million investment in Sumter County.The company said today the solar panel manufacturing project will create 300 new jobs, according to a news release from the South Carolina Commerce Department.SEM Wafertech is a solar wafer manufacturer with headquarters in McClellan Park, Calif., near ...

SEM Wafertech Inc. and Solar4America Technology Inc., both owned by renewable energy company SPI Energy Co. Ltd., will establish a presence in South Carolina with a $65.9 million investment in Sumter County.

The company said today the solar panel manufacturing project will create 300 new jobs, according to a news release from the South Carolina Commerce Department.

SEM Wafertech is a solar wafer manufacturer with headquarters in McClellan Park, Calif., near Sacramento.

“As a global renewable energy company making American-made solar wafers and modules, we recognize the importance of having a strong domestic supply chain to meet the fast-growing demand for affordable solar power,” SEM Wafertech Inc. and Solar4America Technology Inc. Chairman Denton Peng said in the new release. “We plan to bring the highest quality domestically produced solar wafers and modules to market, enhancing our nation’s manufacturing capabilities with a long-term investment that will create good paying jobs for South Carolina.”

The new facility will help meet an increasing need for locally sourced solar wafers as the overall demand for solar power continues to grow in the United States, according to the news release. SEM Wafertech is targeting delivery and production of its first solar wafers in the nation by the end of the year, with capacity ramping to three gigawatts by 2024.

“I am personally thrilled to welcome SEM Wafertech and Solar4America to Sumter County, succeeding many exciting investments announced in recent months across South Carolina,” S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith said in the release. “With an investment of more than $65 million and the creation of 300 new jobs, SEM Wafertech and Solar4America will be welcome additions to the region, and to our state’s growing number of globally recognized renewable energy and EV-related companies — continuing to make our state’s economy diverse and prosperous. I welcome them to the Sumter family, where I know we will create an enduring partnership in our community.” Solar4America is a prime solar module manufacturing company that produces “Made in the USA” solar modules. In combination with its facility in Sacramento, the new South Carolina facility will allow Solar4America to manufacture a wider variety of solar panels for customers, with an aim to increase capacity to 2.4 gigawatts by the end of the year.

SEM Wafertech and Solar4America plan to occupy an existing building located at 1150 Clipper Road in Sumter, where they will design, build out and install a “world-class” silicon wafer slicing facility, the news release said. Silicon wafers produced in the facility will be used in a variety of applications, including photovoltaic cells and semiconductors. Solar panels will serve commercial, residential and industrial energy generation and storage needs.

Operations are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023. Individuals interested in joining the team should visit the company’s website.

“We are thrilled to add another company to our growing family of industrial leaders in Sumter and are enthusiastic about the corporate investment and jobs that will be a result of this project,” Sumter Mayor David Merchant said in the release. “The city of Sumter is also proud to partner with the company to support the needed infrastructure improvements for high quality industrial water and wastewater services.” The Commerce Department’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to this project. The council also awarded a $1.5 million Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to Sumter County to assist with the costs of water and wastewater improvements and building improvements.

Sumter Apartment Complex shut down over fire safety violations

SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - The Garden Circle Apartment Complex on East Liberty Street has been shut down, forcing tenants to relocate. The building was closed after a non-working elevator was discovered inside the building.“Based on all the conditions... they were going to have to completely shut the building down,” said Joseph Duggan, Division Chief of Training with the Sumter Fire Dept.The Sumter Fire Department first responded to a call at the apartment complex around 1:30 Tuesday afternoon after trying to help take ca...

SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - The Garden Circle Apartment Complex on East Liberty Street has been shut down, forcing tenants to relocate. The building was closed after a non-working elevator was discovered inside the building.

“Based on all the conditions... they were going to have to completely shut the building down,” said Joseph Duggan, Division Chief of Training with the Sumter Fire Dept.

The Sumter Fire Department first responded to a call at the apartment complex around 1:30 Tuesday afternoon after trying to help take care of an elderly family member. The caller said they went to the complex to take care of their family member who was stuck on the fourth floor.

The family member had mobility issues and couldn’t make it down four flights of stairs, and with the elevator left out of order, they were essentially trapped. Duggan from Sumter Fire tells us the elevator had not been working for at least 20 days.

Following an inspection, Duggan says there were other factors that were even more alarming that ultimately led to the apartment complex being shut down. He says building management could not provide documentation that fire suppression system was inspected in addition to the fire alarm system not working.

“Due to life safety issues, they were going to have to shut the apartment complex down.” Duggan said.

Duggan explained how the person who called for the fire department to come is the hero of this story. He says people that make those types of calls help keep the community safe.

“It’s people like that, that are going to save lives,” Duggan said, adding, “We need people that are going to step up and let us know that these issues are out there and then we can in turn go in and enforce code.”

Forty-seven tenants were relocated to nearby hotels. The property manager told WIS in a statement:

“We are having the elevators fixed tomorrow morning (Thursday) and the tenants should be moving back in at the end of the day. We are hoping all will be resolved and that this will never happen again.”

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Possible connection between missing Midlands woman and suspected serial killer

Sumter County Sheriff's Office says it received a tip that the suspected serial killer Rex Heuermann may have a connection to missing Sumter woman Julie Bean.SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter County investigators are looking into whether there is a potential connection between a missing Midlands woman and a suspected serial killer in Long Island.“Miss Bean was last seen in Sumter County on May 31, 2017,” Mark Bordeaux with Sumter County Sheriff&rsquo...

Sumter County Sheriff's Office says it received a tip that the suspected serial killer Rex Heuermann may have a connection to missing Sumter woman Julie Bean.

SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter County investigators are looking into whether there is a potential connection between a missing Midlands woman and a suspected serial killer in Long Island.

“Miss Bean was last seen in Sumter County on May 31, 2017,” Mark Bordeaux with Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) says.

It’s a case that’s gone cold, but has remained open, Bordeaux explains.

“This case and all of our cases that are unresolved, particularly homicides and missing persons, are never closed until we come to a place of resolution that we find an answer to what has happened,” Bordeaux details.

Now, a recent tip has reignited the conversation about what might have happened with Bean.

“Miss Bean may have a connection with the serial killer in New York, Rex Heuermann,” Bordeaux shares. “It's still unclear, but there's enough hope that our investigators are doggedly pursuing an answer.”

Investigators say a third party tip came in from someone outside of Sumter County who said there might be a connection between the suspected serial killer accused of killing four women. SCSO is now checking whether Bean should be added to the list. SCSO says Bean’s daughter initially reported her missing back in 2017. In a recent interview, SCSO says she remembered something that might be key.

“Someone that may have been, appeared, may have looked like Mr. Heuermann was with her mother and a vehicle may have been similar,” Bordeaux explains. “But once again, you'll notice I'm using the word ‘may’ and ‘possibly.’ We're hoping to nail that down through further investigations going on as we speak.”

Bordeaux says investigators’ response has been “guarded excitement.”

“On the one hand, we can get well-meaning tips and suggestions and theories that may have no basis in fact, so our men and women have to guard their emotions and just proceed methodically in what they're doing,” Bordeaux explains. “So there's a lot of hope for all of these missing people, as well as the homicide cases that have been unsolved, that we’ll have an answer, but until we have the evidence, we must be guarded in how we react and respond…”

While Bordeaux tells me investigators are working through this tip to see if there might be a connection, they’re still asking anyone with information to come forward.

“Almost every case that's been unsolved, I believe that somebody knows something,” Bordeaux says. “And if they will pause and think of the difference they can make in an a family's life, the justice that they could bring, and that they could really be used to make a difference in society by just stepping up and saying what they know, can you imagine if everybody that had information on a case, even if they weren't sure it was relevant, would just contact the law enforcement officials?”

If you have any information that you think might be helpful in this case, you can report that anonymously to CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or online at P3Tips.com.

At this point, Bordeaux says it is “only a missing person case at this time.” In the “best case scenario,” he says investigators are hoping to find Miss Bean alive, “but any information that may be helpful is what we want.”

Florence man charged in $80,000 chicken heist in Sumter County

SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - An $80,000 chicken heist was foiled in Sumter County and a truck driver was taken into custody.According to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), Christopher Thomas, 55, was supposed to deliver 41,000 pounds of chicken to two locations in Milton, Georgia, but had other plans to make cash.”I don’t know how you get $80,000 worth of chicken out of the plant in the first place,” said an anonymous worker at Pilgrims Pride Plant.Sumter County deputies along with the assistance ...

SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - An $80,000 chicken heist was foiled in Sumter County and a truck driver was taken into custody.

According to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), Christopher Thomas, 55, was supposed to deliver 41,000 pounds of chicken to two locations in Milton, Georgia, but had other plans to make cash.

”I don’t know how you get $80,000 worth of chicken out of the plant in the first place,” said an anonymous worker at Pilgrims Pride Plant.

Sumter County deputies along with the assistance from Lee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Thomas on Saturday evening.

According to the SCSO, Thomas — who is from Florence — was hired by Pilgrim’s Pride to deliver chicken and is suspected of having intentions of selling it.

WIS spoke to a worker at the plant who said this news comes as no surprise as these types of thefts keep happening.

”I’m not entirely sure how this is happening to be honest,” the worker said. “That’s a lot of chicken to be stolen out of there twice so I really have no idea how they’re even doing it and what they’re doing to stop it.”

Investigators believe Thomas sold part of the load of chicken he was transporting in various locations and was in the process of selling more when deputies pulled him over for a traffic stop.

When Thomas gave consent to deputies to search the truck, the investigator saw pallets loaded with cases of frozen chicken which was confirmed to be stolen from Pilgrim’s Pride.

Thomas was arrested with approximately seven pallets loaded with 215 cases of chicken that weighed 8,000 lbs.

It is believed Thomas sold about 33,000 lbs. of chicken.

Thomas is charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent and is valued at $10,000 or more.

The worker gave insight into what the company could do to better manage the security of the plant.

“I guess the checkpoint to make sure on who’s coming in and out, what’s on the trucks and all of that,” the worker said. “I have no idea on how they get the trucks out there cause usually there’s these big trucks with freezers in them so I’m guessing they have one of those.”

If found guilty, Thomas can spend up to 10 years in prison.

Thomas appeared in court on Monday morning and was granted a $50,000 bond, but has yet to pay it.

In May, WIS News 10 reported on a similar incident in the same county where two men were arrested after being accused of stealing $40,000 worth of boneless chicken breast from Pilgrim’s Pride. However, investigators said the two crimes are not connected.

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