Accused rapists have ties to KKK, investigators say - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Accused rapists have ties to KKK, investigators say

Jeremy Shay Sweat Jeremy Shay Sweat
Dustin L. Evans Dustin L. Evans

(Manning) July 10, 2006 - Investigators now say the alleged sexual assault and stabbing of a teenage girl in Manning was a hate crime. 

Jeremy Sweat and Dustin Evans are charged with raping and stabbing a 15-year-old girl one week ago.

Sweat and Evans are white. The alleged victim is black.

The sheriff says officers believe Sweat and Evans targeted her because of her race, and may have been targeting any African-American woman.

As a teenager, investigators say Jeremy Sweat liked the Ku Klux Klan.

Deputies showed News 10 a report from a camp for troubled teens in Louisiana, stating he "frequently makes references to his involvement in the KKK."

The 1997 report also said Sweat "threatens to kill specific staff members."

Since moving to Clarendon County a year ago, deputies believe Sweat's violent feelings grew.

"He doesn't make references to the KKK, but he does make references to the lack of value he places on the young woman's life. Basically he said, she's just a black whore-- no one's going to care about her," says Tommie Burgess.

Lieutenant Tommie Burgess says officers also believe Sweat and Evans raped a black woman from Summerton last month.

Both women said the men talked about killing them.

"The first victim ... They talked about throwing her to the alligators ... The second one, they discussed tying blocks to her legs and throwing her in the lake," Burgess says.

Investigators believe Sweat and Evans may have approached more black women. A group of girls told deputies the men came up to them at this Waffle House, and asked if they wanted to go to their house and drink beer. The girls said no.

As of Monday night, both men remained in jail after a judge denied bond.

Charges, background and timeline

21-year-old Dustin L. Evans was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and assault and battery with intent to kill. He was taken into custody without incident at approximately 9:05 Thursday morning at his mother's home in Manning. He's now at the Clarendon County jail.

Evans' wife says he'd been gone for three days, but gave up, saying he couldn't run anymore. "All he could do was cry. Like he was just really scared. He let them handcuff him. He didn't try to fight."

24-year-old Jeremy Shay Sweat was arrested last Monday afternoon and faces the same charges.

Investigators say inside the mobile home, the victim was choked and had her neck cut with a knife before she was repeatedly raped by the two men.

They then forced her into a shower, told her to turn around and began stabbing her. The teenager fell into the bathtub and played dead.

She played dead and overheard the men talking about getting some trash bags and dumping her body in a lake. That's when her attackers left.

Then she ran away, climbing over the back fence to get help next door. Oather Webster tells what happened next, "I could hear somebody stumbling and banging on the wall as they were going down the porch."

The girl was soaked in blood and pounding on Webster's house, begging to be let in, "I had this blood-soaked figure come bolting in the house."

"She was starting to go into shock. I'm assuming from loss of blood. I mean the amount of blood that she had left on the walls and the spot where she had sat in my dining area, was tremendous."

A sheriff's spokesman says the victim is recovering from her wounds, and doing well. Authorities said Thursday she has been released from the hospital.

The case will be prosecuted by the 3rd Circuit Solicitor's Office. As always, officials stress all defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

That's important to Evans' wife Crystal. Two years ago, Dustin Evans was a proud new father of his first child with Crystal, who's now pregnant with the couple's second baby. "He was a gentle guy. I mean he'll appear to be kind of rough to people, but he's really gentle. I mean, because of the tattoos and his body build, I mean he appears to look rough, but he's just always been real gentle."

Investigators say they have also linked Sweat and Evans to the rape of a 45-year-old Summerton woman June 20th. She was also black.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie & Jennifer Miskewicz with AP

Updated 5:45pm by Graeme Moore

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