SC community mourns killings of aunt, niece

State - Regional

PICKENS, S.C. (WSPA/WBTW) – Pickens County residents came together to remember Claudette and Rebecca Purry on Monday night.

Both women were killed last week after police say Rebecca Purry’s ex-boyfriend shot Claudette and kidnapped Rebecca. 

More than 100 people gathered at Griffin Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pickens, where both women were members. 

Rebecca Purry, 28, was found dead Saturday with an apparent gunshot wound, according to Pickens police. Also found dead was Marco Vaught. Police said Vaught was her ex-boyfriend and had kidnapped Rebecca days earlier. 

According to Pickens police, on April 16, Rebecca went ot the police department to report that her ex-boyfriend, 36-year-old Vaught, has “threatened to come to her house and get her,” a press release from the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office said. On April 17 around 1 a.m., police received a shots fired call in the 500 block of Pendleton Street. Witnesses reportedly said that Vaught fired several shots before forcing Purry into a black 2000 model GMC Denali with NC tags. 

“During the incident, Vaught shot Rebecca Purry’s aunt, Claudette Purry multiple times. Claudette Purry, 54, later died at the hospital while receiving medical treatment,” the release said. “Rebecca Purry’s father and son were in the residence at the time of the incident. The City of Pickens Police Department issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) for Vaught.”

On Saturday, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office said they received information that Vaught was at his home in the 800 block of Deer Lane in Tabor City, the release also said. Deputies arrived at the home shortly and 11 a.m., secured a perimeter around the house, and attempted to make contact with those in the residence. While on scene, deputies reportedly heard multiple gunshots coming from inside the home. The CCSO SWAT team then attempted to make contact who those in the home. 

“After failed attempts at communication, the SWAT Team forced entry into the residence. Marco Maurice Vaught and Rebecca Marie Purry were located inside the residence, deceased from gunshot wounds,” the release added. The CCSO said their investigation is closed. 

Michele Tatum, with the CCSO, said in an email to News13 that Vaught had a 2008 warrant from Horry County for kidnapping charges. 

Deloris Robinson, the paternal grandmother of Purry’s three young sons, takes care of the two oldest children. 

“It hurts…I hurt for my grandsons,” Robinson said. “I wake up in the morning thinking it’d be a dream. I look on the news…I see a real occurrence of what happened.”

On the day Purry was kidnapped, police said her captor shot her aunt Claudette Purry, 54, who later died at the hospital. 

“She was such a sweet person…never bothered anybody,” said her friend Bernice Wakefield. 

The loss of both women has shocked people in Pickens County. In response, a vigil was held to pray for hurting, healing, and unity. 

“It was just necessary that we come together to try to have the hurt and the healing process to take place because of the tragedy,” said Carl Allmond. 

The community lit candles in remembrance of Rebecca and Claudette Purry and pledged to be there for each other during this time of need. 

“I feel like some relief you know now because everybody was so sad here in this town,” Wakefield said. “We didn’t know how to deal with this. It felt so good to everybody. It was like everybody showing some support about what we was going through.”

If you are struggling with domestic violence, call 1-800-291-2139 for help. 

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