A North man has been charged with murder following the disappearance of a West Columbia woman last seen four days before Christmas.
“On today at noon, we have arrested and charged Mr. Kenneth Franklin Cutter with the murder of Mrs. Kimberly Parrish,” Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said in a press conference held Friday. An arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
As of late Friday, Parrish’s body had not been recovered.
But Ravenell said agents from his office, Richland County, the State Law Enforcement Division, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the North Police Department have been conducting “extensive” searches in western Orangeburg County.
The 40-year-old mother of two was last seen on Dec. 21 picking up her paycheck at the day care where she worked in Columbia. Richland County authorities announced she was missing two days later.
Authorities checked her phone records Monday, which led to the discovery of a possible tie here.
“Through our investigation, we determined Mrs. Parrish had a male acquaintance in Orangeburg County,” Ravenell said.
Cutter is that acquaintance, authorities said.
They met through work about four months ago, Ravenell said. It’s not clear what type of relationship the two shared.
Authorities are also unsure what the motive could be in the alleged crime.
Cutter’s felony criminal history in Orangeburg County consists of one count of third-degree arson from 1995. He was ordered to pay restitution and sentenced to serve in the Youthful Offender’s program.
In 1999, he testified for the state in a death penalty case against an Orangeburg woman charged along with several others in the deaths of a man and woman. Cutter, who was not accused of a crime, testified he had been asked for bullets prior to the shooting of the woman at a remote location near Branchville.
Now 37, Cutter was contacted by authorities based on Parrish’s phone records.
According to an Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office incident report, Orangeburg and Richland county investigators suspected Cutter from their first meeting. The officers wrote it was their instinct that “the subject had direct knowledge of the victim’s disappearance.”
OCSO’s investigative division was contacted. They began focusing on Cutter’s remote Timber Crook Lane residence in the Wolfton area, looking for any trace of the missing woman.
Near Cutter’s residence, a “crime scene” was discovered inside an abandoned house that the sheriff said “scientifically” convinced investigators Parrish had been murdered. Investigators say they recovered clothing belonging to Parrish, personal items, DNA and blood.
According to the warrant against Cutter, officials believe Parrish was killed between Dec. 21 and Dec. 23.
Until her body is recovered, authorities said they won’t know how the West Columbia woman died or if any type of weapon was used in her death.
Parrish’s green Chevy was found at a church on North Road, and authorities continue to search a wooded area from Wolfton to North by air and ground.
Cadaver dogs have been on the ground much of the week searching the remote area less than a mile west of Wolfton.
Helicopters have searched from the air, while several ponds near the residence and a stretch of the Edisto River about a mile away have been searched.
Authorities are aware that Tuesday is the end of deer hunting season, which will remove a large number of potential searchers from the woods.
“We want to bring closure to the Parrish family, so we ask hunters, farmers and anyone with land to be vigilant and contact law enforcement if they locate anything,” Ravenell said in a press release earlier Friday.
If anyone has any information or sees anything suspicious, they are asked to contact the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office at 803-534-3550 or 911.
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