Sumter ex-husband's hearing set in 'execution-style' slaying

Bond may be issued in January for suspect accused after hunter finds woman in grave

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 11/30/17

A bond hearing has been set for January for a man accused of kidnapping and murder in the "execution-style" killing of his ex-wife on Nov. 16.

The Third Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office asked that James Lee Ginther III, 26, appear before a …

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Sumter ex-husband's hearing set in 'execution-style' slaying

Bond may be issued in January for suspect accused after hunter finds woman in grave

James Lee Ginther III stands before a magistrate judge during a first appearance hearing at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center on Wednesday. Ginther is charged with kidnapping and murder in the killing of his ex-wife, Suzette Ginther.
James Lee Ginther III stands before a magistrate judge during a first appearance hearing at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center on Wednesday. Ginther is charged with kidnapping and murder in the killing of his ex-wife, Suzette Ginther.
ADRIENNE SARVIS / THE SUMTER ITEM
Posted

A bond hearing has been set for January for a man accused of kidnapping and murder in the "execution-style" killing of his ex-wife on Nov. 16.

The Third Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office asked that James Lee Ginther III, 26, appear before a circuit court judge to determine his bond because of the severity of his charges, said Solicitor Ernest "Chip" Finney III during a first appearance hearing at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center on Wednesday.

Magistrate Judge Larry Blanding scheduled the bond hearing for general sessions court at Sumter County Judicial Center at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 12.

Two family members of 27-year-old Suzette Ginther - including her father - were present during the first appearance hearing. Neither spoke.

Many people have lost sleep and have put a lot of hours into this investigation, said Randy Stewart, a Sumter County Sheriff's Office investigator.

Statements implicating the accused James Ginther's involvement in Suzette Ginther's killing are outstanding, he said.

Evidence suggests that James Ginther took his ex-wife by force as she was leaving her residence in Cherryvale to go to work and killed her in Manchester State Forest, about nine miles from her home, he said.

The manner of death was dark and quite brutal, Stewart said.

James Ginther allegedly killed his ex-wife execution style when he supposedly made her get on her knees before shooting her in the head, said Ken Bell, Sumter County Sheriff's Office public information officer.

She then fell face first into a hole in the ground where water had pooled at the bottom, he said.

A hunter found Suzette Ginther's body in the shallow grave on Nov. 16, hours after she was reported missing for failing to show up for work at PetSmart in Columbia.

Investigators are still not sure of a motive, Bell said.

"This is a sad situation all the way around," he said. "The death penalty is on the table."

Ginther was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, after a traffic incident on Nov. 20. Sumter County Sheriff's Office issued a warrant for Ginther's arrest about three hours before the wreck.

A firearm reportedly matching the caliber of weapon used to kill Suzette Ginther was found in his possession during his arrest.

The gun has been sent to S.C. Law Enforcement Division to determine if it is the weapon used to kill Suzette, Bell said. Ginther had a concealed weapons permit and was legally allowed to possess a firearm before the investigation, he said.

James Ginther has refused to speak to investigators since he was arrested and has requested a lawyer, he said.

Jennifer Tatum, a co-worker of the slain woman, said she and her other co-workers were worried for her when she did not show up for work because she knew about Suzette's problems with her ex-husband, for which she had a restraining order against him.

The community is missing a wonderful soul, she said.

"She was the sunshine," she said, "first thing in the morning."