TRENTON, S.C. (WJBF) — The Edgefield County Sheriff said evidence shows Joseph McKinnon strangled Patricia Dent inside the home and was burying her in the backyard when he died of a heart attack.
Deputies said they discovered McKinnon’s body first, before finding Dent’s body in a backyard pit.
Dawn Howanietz, who lives just a block up from where the bodies were discovered, said she and her family have only been living in the area for two years.
She said she was concerned and didn’t know there was a danger to neighbors after those bodies were discovered.
“We have no idea, and that’s what we’re asking about,” Howanietz said. “At least let us know that it’s something they have in control or don’t have in control. Do we have to make sure everything is locked up tight, watch our dogs or our animals? We got a farmer back there too you know it’s scary.”
See full statement from Edgefield County Sheriff Jody Rowland and Edgefield County Coroner David Burnett:
“On Saturday morning Deputies along with the Edgefield County Coroner’s Office, and Edgefield County EMS responded to 102 Tanglewood Drive in Trenton, South Carolina to a call of an unresponsive man lying in his yard. Joseph Anthony McKinnon, 60, of the same address was found to be deceased in his yard.
Mr. McKinnon had no signs of trauma and natural causes were suspected. While investigating the death and making notifications to the next of kin, a second body, was located in a freshly dug pit. Patricia Ruth Dent, 65, of the same address appeared to have died by foul play.
On Monday, autopsies were performed on both bodies, and the cause of death for Mr. McKinnon was confirmed to be a cardiac event. Ms. Dent was found to have died by strangulation.
Evidence gathered at the scene, along with statements from witnesses aided investigators to build a timeline, leading us to believe that Mr. McKinnon attacked Ms. Dent while inside their home.
Mr. McKinnon then bound her and wrapped her in trash bags before putting her in the previously dug pit. The pit was then partially filled in by Mr. McKinnon. While covering the pit, Mr. McKinnon had the cardiac event, causing his death.”