COLD CASE: Man's unsolved killing still haunts former case investigator

Only witness passed away since murder

A composite sketch of the man suspected of shooting 24-year-old Jerventez Wilson in Dalzell on Aug. 1, 2008.
A composite sketch of the man suspected of shooting 24-year-old Jerventez Wilson in Dalzell on Aug. 1, 2008.

After nine years of searching for answers and the death of the incident's sole witness, Sumter County Sheriff's Office investigators are still hopeful that the 2008 killing of Jerventez D. Wilson will be resolved.

Wilson, 24, a substitute teacher for the former Sumter School District 17, was shot in the chest at point-blank range and robbed while meeting a man in Cubbage Mobile Home Park in Dalzell on Aug. 1, 2008.

Lt. Clarence McMillan, the original investigator for the case, said the unsolved killing has haunted him since he left the investigations division in 2011 - three years after the shooting.

He said the agency knows of two suspects who may know who shot Wilson, but there is not enough evidence to charge either one. To complicate the situation further, the only witness to the crime has since passed away, he said.

Though the case seems bleak, McMillan is counting on other people in the community to provide information that can crack the case.

The incident began after the sheriff's office received a call about a shooting victim in Dalzell about noon.

According to information originally given to deputies, a man - an alleged stranger to Wilson - took Wilson to Dalzell Fire Station on U.S. 521 North after Wilson flagged him down while running out of the mobile home park.

The driver left the area after dropping Wilson off at the fire station, McMillan said.

Wilson was transported to Tuomey Regional Medical Center, now Palmetto Health Tuomey, in Sumter, where he was pronounced dead.

After further investigation, deputies found out that the driver and Wilson were acquaintances and that the driver took Wilson to Cubbage Mobile Home Park to meet another person, McMillan said.

He said the driver - and only witness - took Wilson to the mobile home park to meet the suspect who allegedly pulled the gun, took Wilson's money and shot him in the chest.

The suspect then ran out of the back entrance of the mobile home park, McMillan said.

Investigators received tips indicating that two brothers may have been involved in some aspect of the incident, he said. At least one of the brothers may have known the man who robbed and killed Wilson, he said.

Wilson's cellphone records show he had been in contact with the brothers until a few minutes before he was shot, McMillan said.

The two suspects' alibis on the night Wilson was killed did not match up, he said. They "lawyered up" when they were approached for a second interview.

Though investigators had the phone records, they were still not enough to pursue charges.

The fact that the men spoke to Wilson minutes before he died does not necessarily show criminal intent, McMillan said. Physical evidence is needed to gain an arrest warrant, he said.

But the two men have not been ruled out.

McMillan said investigators always thought the witness knew the suspect but was afraid to say anything.

He said the witness repeatedly said he did not want to put his family in danger when asked to give information about the shooter.

"That let us know he knew who the suspect was," he said.

McMillan said the witness did provide information for a composite sketch of the suspect, but nothing came of it.

According to previous reports of the incident, the shooter is described as a dark-skinned black man, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and 150 pounds.

The witness took whatever else he knew about the suspect to the grave, McMillan said.

This case is solvable, but without any new information it will remain a cold case, he said.

Anonymous tips can be given by calling Crime Stoppers at (803) 468-2718 or 1-888-CRIME-SC. Information can also be provided by calling Sumter County Sheriff's Office at (803) 436-2000.