Sheriff: Girlfriend admits to shooting man found dead in woods

John Henry Mayers
John Henry Mayers
Mandy Lenore Smith
Mandy Lenore Smith
Timothy Carroll Wise
Timothy Carroll Wise

NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - For weeks, John Henry Mayers' family waited for news of their missing son.

"His mother couldn't sleep because she didn't know where her son was," said old family friend Sandra Counts, "She wasn't eating because she didn't know where her son was."

Then they received the news that Mayers' was murdered, and the Newberry County Sheriff's Office said an ex-girlfriend and her new male roommate were responsible.

The coroner identified the body that was found in the middle of Sumter National Forest as Mayers and said he died from two gunshot wounds to the chest.

Investigators said he disappeared from Lexington County early last month. His body was found in the woods May 25th.

As the case began, investigators said Mayer's long-time girlfriend, 34-year-old Mandy Lenore Smith, and her roommate, 30-year-old Timothy Carroll, became persons of interest. They felt the two were acting suspicious during questioning and avoided talking with law enforcement about the missing person case.

After gathering some evidence the Newberry County Sheriff's Office's said Wise confessed to being present when the murder was committed. "He kind of told us without telling us places we should be looking, and one of those places was Sumter National Forest," said Sheriff Lee Foster.

That confession led investigators to Mayer's body. "Had Lexington County and Newberry County not taken it very serious, the poor man might still be up there," said Sheriff Foster.

Investigators said Mayers had a 20-year relationship with Smith. But in April, she filed for a restraining order.

A few weeks later, investigators said Smith and Wise met with Mayers in the woods. The sheriff said the three were drinking alcohol when and argument broke out between Smith and Mayers. He said Smith shot Mayers once in the chest, but Mayers began to run. He went on to say Smith chased Mayers into a wooded area and shot him a second time, killing him. Smith and Wise then proceeded to leave the scene. "All the bad people in this world, why would someone want to kill someone that's good and put his family through this?" asked Counts.

Smith and Wise were charged with murder May 27th. Both are still in custody pending a bond hearing.

Counts said it may not have been the news the family wanted, but now they know. "That gave them closure," she said,  "Thank God for closure."

Investigators are still looking into a motive at this time.

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