Police name acquaintance they hope has information on shooting death of 31-year-old man found in creek


Officers have named a man in connection to what is now being ruled a homicide after an autopsy revealed the 31-year-old Sumter man who was found dead in a creek last week was shot to death.

Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker said Monday's autopsy conducted at MUSC showed Chester Alphonso "Rock" Stavis had an "apparent gunshot wound to the chest." His body was found in the water off Dicks and Rast streets the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 21.

Stavis had been reported missing two days earlier, and his family and acquaintances had not heard from him since he left his home on Albert Spears Drive about noon the Thursday before, according to previous reports. It had been reported to officers that it was out of character for Stavis to miss work.

It is not clear whether Stavis was shot at the scene or at another location before being brought to where his body was discovered, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the Sumter Police Department.

Officers learned during their investigation Stavis had been with an acquaintance later the day he was last seen and are now searching for 70-year-old Carter Wilson Strother, of Wrangler Trail.

Strother is known to frequent the U.S. 15 South area of Sumter County, McGirt said, and he may have information that could help in the investigation.

He is described as 5-foot-6-inches, weighs about 200 pounds and has gray hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts or in the shooting death of Stavis is asked to call the police department at (803) 436-2700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. A cash reward may be available to information leading to an arrest in the case, and callers can remain anonymous.

Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers by going to www.P3tips.com and clicking on the "Submit a New Tip" tab or by downloading the new P3 Tips app on a smart device.