Community shocked by murder arrests, ponder motive
By Nikki Gaskinsngaskins@abcnews4.com
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV)Just one day after the Berkeley Co. Sheriff's Office announced the arrests of two suspects accused of killing Dana Woods, 18 and June Guerry, 22many in the tight-knit communities of Alvin, Macedonia, Cordesville and surrounding areas of rural Berkeley County are left with many unanswered questionsincluding 'why?'
Reaction to the Suspects Charged
"I'm glad justice is going to be served," said Melissa Still who not only knew the victims, but the two men charged with their murders. "They (the suspects) were just normal people. We played together. We talked together. I just don't understand it, and it shocked me more than anything and it angered me, too. Those girls didn't deserve what happened to them and the families don't deserve it either."
On Saturday, deputies arrested Arthur Ray Chavis, 23, and Caleb Matlock, 23. Both are charged with two counts of murder. According to investigators, the two men are cousins and also knew the two victims. As for a motive for the deadly shooting, deputies have yet to say.
"Those people knew what they were doing and honestly the devil will have two more people headed his way," said Brandon Coleman who attended the funeral for June, Sunday at Taylor Cemetery in Macedonia.
Just one day before June's funeral, friends and family said farewell to Dana inside the chapel at Dial Murray Funeral Home in Moncks Corner. Woods was a delivery driver for Papa John's Pizza in Moncks Corner and a student at Trident Technical College. Friends say she wanted to one day become a lawyer.
Coleman worked with Guerry, who leaves behind a small child, at the Wal-mart in Moncks Corner.
"It was always a pleasure seeing her work with us. June was just always so bouncy. Just before she dyed her hair black, she had blonde hair and she'd want to put it in pig tails and when she'd move, the pig tails would bounce. She was just an absolute sweetheart," said Coleman.
Leading Up to the Arrests
According to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, the mother of Dana Woods filed a missing persons report on August 26, after her daughter and June Guerry failed to return home.
In the missing persons report, Dana's mother told investigators her daughter told her that she and June were going to McDonald's, and were going to pick up a friend. Dana never told her mother the friend's name. It's not known if they are one of the suspects arrested for their murders. When Dana's mother tried to call the girls' cell phones, they'd ring and ring before going to voicemail.
According to investigators, a witness later spotted Dana's white, Chevy Metro being driven by an unknown white male, traveling north on Highway 52, headed over the Tail Race Canal. The witness reportedly told investigators the car then turned onto Highway 402 and headed toward Cordesville.
Two days after the missing persons report was filed, Dana's burnt car was located deep in the Francis Marion National Forest in Cordesville. Investigators say her body was found near the car. According to Berkeley County Coroner, Bill Salisbury, she died from a gunshot wound.
One day after the discovery of Dana's body, June's body was found in an area referred to as "The Blackhole," off of Greenwood Drive in "The Beaver Dam" communitywhich is located between Alvin and Macedonia. Salisbury says, like Dana, she also died from a gunshot wound.
Three days after the discovery of June's body, investigators booked Arthur Ray Chavis of Cordesville and Caleb Matlock of Summerville into the Hill Finklea Detention Center in Moncks Corner.
While they faced a magistrate judge Sunday, because of the seriousness of the crime, a bond amount cannot be set. It must be set by a circuit court judge. As a result, they will remain in jail at least for the time being. Since the case is still in its early stages, a trial date has yet to be set.
"I am glad that they were caught. Honestly, I have no pity for them," said Coleman. I only have pity for the families."
A Community Pulls Together
As family, friends and the community mourn the tragic loss of to two, young women, their families struggle to help pay for Dana and June's burial costs.
At the Macedonia Handy Mart off of Highway 17-A in Berkeley County, workers have placed a collection jar inside the small store.
"Every customer has been donating money. Everybody has just pulled together here. I think when you're in a smaller community, everybody tends to know everybody and it's like it could have been my daughter. Everyone here is like an extended part of your own family," said Annette Murphy, a cashier at the Handy Mart.
Murphy works with June's grandmother at the small store where June would sometimes visit. The money collected will be divided between the victims' families.
Fearing a local killer among them, many in the small, tight-knit community became anxious, some even weary of their own neighbor. Those who called the Alvin, Cordesville and Macedonia community home, believed only a person who knew of the two, secluded spots off of Highway 402 and Greenwood Drive, where Dana and June's body were found, could have been responsible.
But since the arrests, Murphy says people, are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief.
"I do think it's great that they got the suspects this soon. I was afraid that it was going to drag," said Murphy. "A lot of times we end up with these missing girls, and the case is never solved."
Murphy's store isn't the only location assisting the families of Dana and June in their time of need.
How to Donate to the Victims' Families
Monday, a car wash will take place at the Wendy's located on Highway 52 in Moncks Corner. The event will last from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. At that time donations will be accepted.
That same day Pivotal Fitness on Old Trolley Road in Summerville will host a Zumbathon event on behalf of Dana and June. The event begins at 9 a.m. and will run through 11 a.m. Donations received will assist with burial costs for both women.
An account has also been set up for June Guerry. To donate, visit any area Wells Fargo Bank. To donate to the fund for Dana Woods, you're asked to visit any area First Federal Bank.