Arrest of murder suspect opens 20-year-old wound for SC family

Published: Aug. 21, 2011 at 10:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2011 at 10:09 PM EDT
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By Stephen Hooker - email

CLARENDON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A man accused of killing four people in Virginia was out of prison after being convicted of killing a South Carolina man in 1990.

Officers said John Ragin killed his wife and stepchildren last week in Newport News, Virginia. That's near Norfolk.

According to police, Ragin fled his hometown to Clarendon County in South Carolina. That's where deputies arrested him. But it isn't his first brush with the law in the Palmetto State. The sheriff's office said Ragin was only 16-years-old when he was convicted for killing Kelvin Billup in November of 1990 in the City of Manning.

Ragin was convicted of Voluntary Manslaughter in Billup's death and received a 30 year sentence in 1991. Officials said he served 14 years and got out of prison on good behavior in 2005.

Kelvin's mother, Patsy Murphy got news of the new killings in Virginia Saturday. "I just had to sit down on this chair," she said. "I just couldn't believe it."

The memories from 20 years ago flooded back. According to police, Ragin was convicted and went to prison for killing her son. It was back in 1990. "He ate dinner with John Ragin, Thanksgiving dinner with John Ragin that day," said Patsy."That was Thanksgiving, and he killed him that night."

Police said Ragin shot Kelvin near a residential intersection in Manning. According to police, two shotgun blasts killed Billup. They said one was to the chest and one was to the head. "It hurt," said Patsy. "It really hurt. So I know what that family is going through because I've been there."

Family gathered Sunday at the homes of Patsy's sisters. Patsy said she holds high respect for Ragin's parents and feels for them. But as for Ragin, "He don't need to live either," she said. "He don't need to live."

Patsy went back twenty years in the pain of that first grief, all over again.

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