Crime

Killing of SC woman was orchestrated by inmate, police say. 8 arrested in conspiracy

How to report a missing person

Here are a few tips on how to file a report if a loved one or friend has gone missing.
Up Next
Here are a few tips on how to file a report if a loved one or friend has gone missing.

Police believe they’re eight steps closer to unraveling a criminal conspiracy that began when deputies found a woman shot dead in the woods of Laurens County.

Authorities in South Carolina and North Carolina arrested eight people in the killing of 27-year-old Michelle Marie Dodge of York, including one man who is currently in prison for another murder. All eight are charged with conspiring to kidnap Dodge.

Laurens County deputies found Dodge’s body nearly two weeks ago off a rural stretch of road in a wooded area outside of the city of Laurens. She was shot in the back of the head and in the foot, Laurens Coroner F. G. “Nick” Nichols said.

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office charged Aaron Carrion, Aaron Sprouse and James Robert Peterson with murder. Peterson is in the Kirkland Correctional Institution outside of Columbia after being sentenced to 30 years for a 2005 murder. Peterson also was convicted in 2016 for his part in organizing a drug ring from prison using contraband cell phones that brought meth from California to the South Carolina Upstate.

Laurens investigators say they have evidence indicating Peterson orchestrated the killing.

Carrion, 26, and Sprouse, 27, are charged with carrying out the killing. Police arrested Carrion Wednesday and jailed him in the Sumter County Detention Center. Sprouse was arrested three days after the killing, according to jail records. He’s also charged with possession of cocaine and methamphetamine and violating conditions of probation. Sprouse is being held in Cherokee County Detention Center.

Brandon Lee Phillips, 30, and Billy Wayne Ruppe, 57, were booked Tuesday in the Laurens County Detention Center on kidnapping and accessory to murder charges. Police charged Phillips with accessory before a murder while Ruppe was charged with accessory after a murder. Both live in Gaffney, according to jail records.

Listen to our daily briefing:

After Dodge’s body was found on July 20, police found her car in a “very remote area” outside of Gaffney, South Carolina, Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said. Investigators suspect that someone tried to burn the car or sink it into a nearby river. Dodge’s car was found about five miles from Ruppe’s home and less than three miles from Phillips’ home.

Wednesday, officers with the Gaston County Police Department in North Carolina arrested Lisa Marie Bolton after finding her with a stolen car, jail records show. Officers saw she was wanted in South Carolina on kidnapping and conspiracy charges, according to Capt. Robert Wilkie of the Laurens sheriff’s office. She’s being held at Gaston County Detention Center awaiting extradition to South Carolina, according to records.

Lisa Marie Costello, 41, arrested last week, and Catherine Ross, 27, arrested early Monday, are charged with kidnapping and conspiracy. Police booked them into the Cherokee County Detention Center. Police also accuse Costello of trafficking cocaine or meth. Ross is also charged with accessory after the fact to kidnapping.

All are currently jailed and will likely have to face a circuit court judge to receive a bond.

Related stories from Rock Hill Herald

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.
  Comments