Horry County Police asking for help in solving 20-year-old cold case

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CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — 20 years ago, 27-year-old Barry Bolton was found in a wooded area in a pond in Conway and the case was ruled a homicide. Now the case is being reopened and Horry County Police are asking the public for help in figuring out what happened.

On April 16, 2000 a boy and his father were riding ATVs near a pond next to the State Branch Cemetery off Beverley Road in Conway when they came across a body.

Location where Bolton’s body was discovered.

According to an incident report, the body was found clothed but shoe-less and investigators believe it’d been there for several days before discovery.

Detective Joshua Johnson with Horry County Police said the body wasn’t identified as Barry Bolton until almost six months later in October 2000.

“Because of the type of injury and because of being in and around water, that’s really what led to not being able to identify for awhile,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Bolton died due to blunt force trauma to the head and doesn’t believe he was killed at the location his body was found.

“I think someone knows something,” Johnson said. “This was a deliberate act in that the placement of Barry’s body without a doubt, this was not a scene that was just happened upon in the heat of the moment, this was a thought out matter.”

Johnson said the case has been opened twice before with possible suspects but nothing was ever confirmed. Investigators and his friend believe the crowd Barry was hanging out with at the time know something about his death.

“I think he was hanging around with a crowd who was rough around the edges and maybe got involved with some things that sort of led up to him being murdered,” Stacey Leemusser, Barry’s friend said.

“To his lifestyle, it’s still something that we’re investigating and trying to dig into people in his past and talk to people in his past to kind of help us in a direction,” Johnson said.

Barry Bolton, age 27 in April 2000

Now, Johnson said they’re reopening the case because they want answers and want someone to come forward with information.

“Maybe someone who lives in this community either now or then may have heard something. Again, this just does not happen every day out where we are, very rural, quiet Conway area and I think someone knows something,” Johnson said.

At the time, Barry weighed 160 lbs., was 5’8″ , had brown hair and green eyes. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue sweatshirt, and no shoes at the time of discovery.

Leemusser says Barry lived in the Socastee and Conway area at the time and was an outgoing guy who liked good music.

“He was liked and loved by a lot of people and it’s unfortunate that this happened to him and if we could back in time, I’m sure everyone would do things a little differently. He is missed for sure,” Leemusser said.

Leemusser said he just wants closure in knowing what happened.

“It’s just something we’d like to sort of get past us, to know that it’s been solved and that we can all rest peacefully and maybe it’ll help him rest peacefully as well,” Leemusser said.

If you have any information about the case, you’re asked to contact the Horry County Police Crime Tips line at crimetips@horrycounty.org or call 843-915-TIPS (8477).

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