Investigators need community help in case of murdered Richland teen
(Richland) Aug. 23, 2005 - Richland County investigators say they're close to cracking the case of a murdered teenager, but they need help from someone in the lower Richland area.
Silene Eaddy, many knew her as Erica, was just 15. She was a freshman at Dreher High who talked about being a hair stylist or an artist.
But Richland investigators say Erica was also a troubled young woman. Eric Barnes of the Richland County Sheriff's Department is familiar with the case, "She was a child that had a lot of problems. She was searching for a lot of comfort in the wrong places, in the wrong people. People took advantage of her."
And it may be that one of those people killed her.
In April 2004, firefighters found Erica's body in a wooded area of Hopkins. She'd been beaten, and her body was set on fire.
For a while, her necklace provided the only clue to Erica's identity. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts says, "It's obviously extremely violent. A lot of underlying issues that would go into something like that."
Investigator Eric Barnes says the sheriff's department has run drivers license checkpoints, gone door to door, even worked through churches to find out who killed Erica. He says people who know have maintained a sort of code of silence, "If they can get over that silence that undermines the moral fabric of our community, if you will, but also undermines the investigation, we can bring these suspects to justice. We're pretty confident we're close. We just need those people to step forward now."
Barnes says some people in the area around Hopkins have cooperated, and have helped move the investigation forward.
There is a Crimestoppers reward for information, but the sheriff's department says that information needs to come out because it's the right thing to do for Erica's family and the entire community.
Reported by Jack Kuenzie
Posted 6:10pm by Chantelle Janelle