SLED joins investigation into Columbia mother, daughter homicide

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is helping Columbia homicide investigators figure out who killed a Columbia mother and her 3-year-old daughter. The killing happened sometime between Thursday and Sunday at the Brook Pines apartment complex on Broad River Road.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts identified the victims as 25-year-old Candra Alston and her 3-year-old daughter Malaysia Boykin. Watts won't say how the victims died, but says the girl's killing was one of the most brutal and horrific acts he had ever seen against a child. Columbia police have said they suspect foul play and continue to investigate the deaths.

Alston's mother, Cheyenne Lyerly, declined to talk about her daughter's killing after Columbia police told the family not to talk to the media. Lyerly did say the victim's bodies were released from the coroner's office Wednesday.

Crime scene tape and evidence labels still covered the windows and doors of Alston's apartment Wednesday. Watts said he hoped to have an update on the cause of death on the victims Wednesday evening.

"I just could not imagine, with eight kids myself, someone doing this to a mother and a child regardless of the reason," said Interim Police Chief Randy Scott. "There is no reason."

Scott said officers went to an apartment on Brook Pines Drive around 10:00am Sunday after the victims' family had been unable to reach them since Thursday. When police entered the home, they found the woman and her child unresponsive.

"Oh Lord, that's awful to take a child's life and a mother," said neighbor Darlene Pringle after finding out her neighbors were found dead.

Police said the incident is isolated and neighbors should not be worried for their safety. However, that's not easy for Pringle, who babysits her grandchildren and hopes whoever did this is found soon. "They need to come forward," said Pringle. "When they catch him, they need to throw the book at him."

If you have any information on this crime, you are asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.