Sheriff: Teenage murder suspect shot victim, dragged him - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Sheriff: Teenage murder suspect shot victim, dragged him from a truck

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Gregory Ashton Collins  (Source: Newberry County Sheriff's Office) Gregory Ashton Collins (Source: Newberry County Sheriff's Office)
Anthony Hill Anthony Hill
Deputies prepare to enter trailer (Source: Newberry County Sheriff's Department) Deputies prepare to enter trailer (Source: Newberry County Sheriff's Department)

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

POMARIA, SC (WIS) - Newberry County deputies say the murder suspect they arrested after a standoff Wednesday morning shot his victim in the head and then dragged him several miles from his truck.

Sheriff Lee Foster, calling the crime scene one of the worst he's ever seen, said 19-year-old Gregory Ashton Collins was arrested at the Orchard Park trailer park for the gruesome act after authorities used tear gas to force Collins out of his mobile home.

At 4:30am Wednesday, a man called 911 saying he saw a body lying on Highway 321 near the Pomaria town limit sign, not far from Pomaria Garmany Elementary School. Foster said deputies discovered the man had been dragged several miles, and followed the trail back to the trailer park off Highway 34 just outside Newberry. 

A deputy saw something on a parked pickup truck linking the vehicle to the body. Deputies went to the house and Collins answered the door, but refused to come out.

Newberry County CIRT team members and the SLED SWAT team surrounded the trailer. At the time, Collins was considered "armed and dangerous" by authorities. After a three-hour standoff, deputies and SLED agents used tear gas to force Collins out of the trailer, where he surrendered without incident.

Foster said Collins was not holding a weapon when he was arrested, but did have an empty pistol holster on his side. Authorities found a number of high-powered weapons including several assault rifles inside the home.

The Newberry County Coroner used fingerprints and tattoos to identify the victim as Anthony Lamont Hill, 30, of Winnsboro. The coroner said Hill died of a single gunshot wound to side of head, and the injuries caused by being dragged happened after Hill died.

Kay Porter was Collins' landlord.

"He's been very responsible, very polite, very responsive, when he comes to pay he was always on time," said Porter.

Foster said Collins and Hill were co-workers at the Louis Rich plant in Newberry, and it appears the two had known each other for several months. Investigators believe the two spent most of Tuesday together and were at Collins' house early Wednesday morning when Collins shot Hill.

Investigators say Collins then carried Hill's body out of the trailer, used a nylon rope to tie the body to his truck and began to drag him behind the truck away from the trailer.

Foster said Collins dragged the body for 10.7 miles along Highway 34 and onto Highway 176 until just past Highway 773 where the rope snapped and Hill's body landed beside the road, where it was later discovered by the passing driver.

Foster says because Hill is black and Collins is white, deputies called in the FBI in to see if the murder was a hate crime. Foster said it's too early to tell for sure, but said they are investigating the possibility.

"We asked the FBI to come in not just because this was an act of violence, it was but also look at this as a potential hate crime," said Foster.

Foster says he is also trying to figure out why two men who appeared to be friends are now separated by death.

"We will leave no stone unturned in assuring the victim's family and community are assured that every effort has been made in the case and that they are safe in their homes and community," said Foster.

Collins has been charged with murder, and authorities say additional charges will be filed.

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