The death of Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams remains a mystery as the county mourns his passing.
The sheriff died Tuesday night at Palmetto Health Richland hospital in Columbia after being hospitalized Aug. 30 with undisclosed health problems, the sheriff's department reported.
Keisa Gunby Peterson, a sheriff's department spokeswoman, said the family has asked that the cause of death not be released.
Just last month, Williams, 53, was on the national stage as media flocked to Orangeburg to report on Shaquan Duley, the 29-year-old mother accused of smothering her sons and driving their bodies into the Edisto River. Williams held at least one lengthy press conference and appeared on several national news programs.
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Williams was praised Wednesday by fellow law enforcement officers and other public officials for his integrity and his dedication to Orangeburg County. He was elected sheriff in 2000 after two decades in law enforcement and was recognized as the state's Sheriff of the Year in 2003 for his involvement in statewide law enforcement issues.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he and Williams talked frequently about law enforcement issues, such as community policing.
"He was a real progressive sheriff and was an honest sheriff with lots of integrity," Lott said.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said Williams never lost the common touch even though he had been elected to a powerful office. He was popular across the county, she said.
"We have some big shoes to fill, no pun intended," Cobb-Hunter said about the sheriff, who was large in stature.
Many people knew the sheriff had been hospitalized, but no one was told what health problems he had been dealing with.
Lott said Williams was diabetic and dealt frequently with complications from that disease.
Funeral arrangements were not released Wednesday.