Confessions, motives surface in deadly home invasion

The defendants in court Thursday. (left to right): Drakeford, Randy Lewis, and Macklin
The defendants in court Thursday. (left to right): Drakeford, Randy Lewis, and Macklin
The Sandspur Road crime scene.
The Sandspur Road crime scene.
The apartment where Singleton, Drakeford and Jerome Lewis were arrested.
The apartment where Singleton, Drakeford and Jerome Lewis were arrested.

CAMDEN, SC (WIS) - During a bond hearing Thursday for three of the five men charged in a string of home invasions, details emerged about how and why a man died inside his home in front of his five-day-old son.

Kershaw County deputies and State Law Enforcement Division agents arrested the men inside a Camden apartment on May 17 after investigators said the group planned a scheme to rob a Camden man of his lottery winnings.

Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper denied bond for Frank Singleton, III, Jerome Lewis and Frank Macklin, III on various charges including murder, armed robbery and kidnapping. Cooper granted Curtis Drakeford $100,000 bond on murder, armed robbery and accessory charges and $10,000 bond for Randy Lewis on accessory and conspiracy charges.

The killing happened at a home on Sandspur Road in Camden around 11:30 p.m. on May 16. Prosecutors said Drakeford drove Singleton, Macklin, and Jerome Lewis to the home and a short time later, the three backed out of the robbery and called Drakeford to pick them up,.

Sometime later, the three returned to the scene to go through with the robbery, investigators said. Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson told the judge that the men planned to rob Michael Hayes, 39, after the group heard that he had won some money in the South Carolina Education Lottery.

Johnson said Singleton, Jerome Lewis, and Macklin kicked Hayes' door in and found the man sitting on his couch with his five-day-old son. The plan, according to prosecutors, was for Macklin to restrain Hayes' girlfriend and baby, and Jerome Lewis would restrain Hayes, while Singleton searched the home for money. Singleton found a safe inside, then ordered the victim to open it, according to the confessions.

"Apparently Mr. Hayes wasn't moving fast enough for Mr. Singleton," Johnson said. That's when investigators said Singleton hit the victim in the head with the gun, before the men got into a struggle. During the struggle, investigators said Hayes was able to remove Singleton's mask and recognized him. That's when prosecutors said Singleton shot Hayes three times in the upper body with a .40 caliber pistol.

All three left the scene with Hayes' safe, girlfriend and baby in the victim's Honda and drove to meet Drakeford, prosecutors said. The men unloaded the safe and left the baby and Hayes' girlfriend inside the Honda, according to investigators.

The men went back to a Camden apartment, shared by Singleton and Drakeford where prosecutors said they found $3,000 cash. Singleton and Jerome Lewis took $1,000 each, while $500 went to Drakeford and Macklin, according to investigators. Ricky Lewis did not receive any money and was not at the scene when the men committed the murder, according to prosecutors.

The crime spree started May 12 when deputies said the group committed the first home invasion inside a trailer park in Hermitage Park. In the first incident, investigators said two masked men robbed a Hispanic man, then took off from the scene. The next night, the men robbed a second trailer in the park.  It was during the second investigation that deputies say they found about the first home invasion.

Around 11:00 p.m. on May 14, Kershaw County deputies were called to a home on Black River Road where two masked men invaded a home and held a gun to the home owner's head. The men forced the victim outside him home and forced him to hand over money from a car, investigators said. Deputies tracked the suspects back to a nearby mobile home and found several pieces of evidence.

During the morning of May 16, Camden police received a call of shots fired and a robbery involving three masked men at the Food Lion on Highway 521 North. Minutes after Food Lion opened for the day at 7:00 a.m., the three masked robbers walked through the doors and forced a clerk at gunpoint to page the manager, whom they made empty out the safe at gunpoint, police say.
One of the robbers shot at a clerk in the meat department but missed, and the three made their way out. "Nobody was physically injured, but to say no one was injured would not be the case because if someone just shot at you, you'd feel like you'd been injured too," Chief Joe Floyd said.

Investigators think the men may be responsible for other burglaries around the county. The investigation into those incidents continues.

A trial date has not been set.

Related stories:

Fifth arrest in deadly home invasion, kidnapping

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