Richard Michael “Mike” Carter (Source: dukesharleyfuneralhome.com)
Investigators park near the discovery of the burned vehicle.
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) -
The identity of a person found shot to death inside the burned vehicle of a man who was reported missing has not yet been determined, officials said, but an obituary for the vehicle's owner has been published online.
The mystery surrounding the apparent death of 61-year-old Richard Michael Carter of Orangeburg continues as law enforcement officials work to advance the investigation into what happened to the man.
Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell says his agency is diligently interviewing people and evaluating evidence in the case, but will not reveal any additional details.
Ravenell said Thursday his agency has "not received any official document or notification identifying the remains that were located in the vehicle," which was discovered Monday night in a wooded area on Antioch Road near Wactor Road in Santee.
"It would be premature for our agency to make comments about an investigation without receiving factual evidence. Our around the clock investigations into both the missing person case of Richard Michael Carter and the identification of the remains are ongoing and will continue in the direction that evidence determines."
Carter's wife, Wendy, filed a missing persons report at 1:35 a.m. on Tuesday. She said her husband had not returned home after going out "to collect rent money from some tenants." When it got late and she had been unable to reach him by phone, she called the sheriff's department.
Hours before that report was filed, the Santee Fire Department contacted the sheriff's department around 7:30 p.m. after firefighters discovered a body inside Carter's 2002 Toyota Land Cruiser during their investigation of the fire.
Fire Chief Edward Barnett said he discovered the deceased man lying face up in the back seat of the SUV. The SUV, according to an incident report, "had plowed through a metal gate that was blocking unauthorized entry onto the property."
The coroner's office later said the man died from a gunshot wound. Authorities have yet to positively identify or release the remains. Dental records and DNA are being utilized to help identify the victim.
On Tuesday, a sheriff's department news release noted a connection between Carter's disappearance and the burned SUV.
"Two separate incidents took place in Orangeburg County and our investigation indicates they could be related," said Ravenell.
According to an online obituary, Carter passed away on Monday.
Memorial services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday at the St. Andrews United Methodist Church. The family was to receive friends at the residence on Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Carter is a graduate of Orangeburg High School and the University of South Carolina.
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