BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCIV) — After 37 years, Berkeley County Sheriff's Office investigators have arrested a man accused of shooting two girls and leaving them for dead in Goose Creek.
Bruce Allen Kirkpatrick, 62, was arrested Tuesday by SLED agents and Berkeley County cold-case detectives, Sheriff Duane Lewis announced Wednesday.
Lewis says Kirkpatrick on Sept. 23, 1981, shot two teenage girls at point blank range, placed the girls in the trunk of their car, and abandoned them on a dirt path in a then undeveloped part of Goose Creek.
Kirkpatrick encountered the girls, Sandra Snider and Laura Patteson, sitting in a car parked in the undeveloped precursor to the St. James Estates subdivision.
Detectives say Kirkpatrick ordered the girls out of their vehicle, but when they refused, he hit one with his revolver, then went on to shoot them both.
Kirkpatrick after shooting the teens forced them into the trunk of the car they'd been in, and drove them to a dirt path off Foster Creek Road in what is now part of the Tanner Plantation subdivision, Lewis says.
Kirkpatrick abandoned the girls there. Snider, despite being shot, was able to get out of the trunk and crawl down the road until she found help.
The trunk would not close despite Kirkpatrick's repeated attempts to slam it shut, Snider says. She eventually held it down to make Kirkpatrick think it was shut, and when Kirkpatrick left, Snider says she was able to leave to find help.
Both Snider and Patteson survived.
Initial efforts by both the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to find a suspect eventually stalled.
Lewis said the case always weighed on his mind because of a personal connection, so he asked cold case detectives to take a fresh look after taking office in 2015.
"You've gotta think about Goose Creek back in 1981," Lewis said. "It was a different place. We knew everybody. I went to school with these girls. We all were touched. It effected all of us. It never left me, which is why ... I asked this case to be reopened."
Lewis added he was familiar with Kirkpatrick growing up, as they lived in the same neighborhood.
Kirkpatrick was arrested at a sex offender registry location in Charleston County on Wednesday. He's charged now with two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of armed robbery.
Lewis says new technology and forensic evidence helped close the gaps in the case, leading to the identification of Kirkpatrick as a suspect.
Detectives had been working the case again for nearly a year when they arrested Kirkpatrick, Lewis says.
Kirkpatrick has an extensive criminal record, and spent most of his life in and out of jails and prison, per Lewis.
Kirkpatrick has been forced to register as a tier-3 sex offender since a 1991 conviction on charges of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, first degree burglary and first degree criminal sexual conduct, the sheriff said.
Lewis says Kirkpatrick has denied his involvement in the shooting of Patteson and Snyder. A judge has denied him bond, and he remains jailed at the Berkeley County Detention Center.