LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - A man whose body was found at an abandoned rest area off Interstate 20 in South Carolina on Wednesday has been identified as an Ohio resident.
Walter R. Payne, Jr., 69, of New London, Ohio, was found dead around 8 a.m. Wednesday at the edge of some woods, deputies said.
The coroner identified Payne Thursday. An autopsy to determine how he died is happening Friday.
According to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Payne was an Ohio native but was known to spend time here in South Carolina.
“He routinely came down here and visited here. He had friends, he had acquaintances so this was not out of the ordinary for him to come and visit here for extended periods of time,” explained Lexington County Sherriff’s Department Capt. Adam Myrick.
A state trooper on patrol found his body at what used to be a rest area off I-20 West. It’s near mile marker 49, which is just past the Longs Pond Road exit.
“A trooper was doing a property check at that site and he was there early Tuesday afternoon and doesn’t report seeing the body, and that same trooper is actually the one who found the body on Wednesday morning,” said Myrick.
Officials say the area is patrolled regularly, so they believe Payne’s body was “placed or left there sometime after Tuesday afternoon.”
“We had detectives there that were taking a look at the body and the surrounding area,” said Myrick. “We also had crime scene investigators who were on the scene to collect potential evidence and take photographs and do the other work in terms of processing that scene,” Myrick said.
As of right now, investigators are still referring to this case as a “death investigation” but say they are using a number of resources to try to figure out what led to Payne’s death and how his body ended up at that abandoned rest stop.
“We’ve got an entire team that is fanned out across the region to talk to individuals who knew Mr. Payne," Myrick said, "and those who might have some idea of what happened that led to his death.”