Kill-Bury-Die: A Shocking True Crime Story
Police in South Carolina had no doubt that Joseph Anthony McKinnon was dead when they showed up in response to a neighbor's 9-1-1 call.
When officers walked into McKinnon's backyard, he was, just like a neighbor said he would be, lying face up, stone-cold dead.
The neighbor had done his best after calling 9-1-1. He'd performed chest compressions in a valiant effort to bring Joseph back to life. But as the cops wrote, McKinnon was "unresponsive."
It was also apparent there was no foul play.
So it was a simple case to close and write up.
Edgefield County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Clark noticed a big hole someone had dug in McKinnon's backyard.
It was over by the garden. Clark decided to talk to neighbors about it, and they said that Joseph wanted to put a water trough in his garden. He had been working on the pit for close to ten days.
As Clark wandered around the pit, he discovered a wallet on the ground. Was it McKinnon's?
The wallet belonged to a woman, Patricia Ruth Dent.
Interesting, thought Clark. He and his fellow deputies decided they needed to find the sixty-five-year-old woman.
It turned out that Patricia was missing. She hadn't shown up for work at a golf course near McKinnon's home.
"No call, no show," is how her employer put it. Then, a co-worker told deputies she'd sent Patricia a text to make sure she was all right but had not received a response.
Deputies also discovered Patricia and sixty-year-old Joseph McKinnon had been dating for a while, and neighbors said she'd moved into Joseph's home.
This was getting interesting, so Clark and his team went back to the McKinnon home and went inside the house.
Guess what they found?
Well, to begin with, the smell of Clorox was overwhelming, Sheriff Jody Rowland told the Washington Post.
Their nostrils never lied. Investigators knew this case would be about more than a senior citizen who had a heart attack and died in his backyard.
"It was obvious to us that the smell of Clorox signed a significant effort to clean a crime scene," said Rowland.
But whoever cleaned the house missed some bloodstains on the den's floor. Now, deputies knew they had a case of foul play. But who and where was the victim?
Deputies returned to the backyard. They were told by a neighbor that he found it odd Joseph had been working so hard the day he died to fill in that garden pit without putting in a water trough.
As soon as Rowland heard that -- added to the smell of Clorox and the bloodstains -- he knew his team would find a body buried in the garden.
So they started digging. And, sure enough, discovered black garbage bags buried in the pit.
And inside the bags, they discovered the body of Patricia Dent.
After talking to neighbors again, Rowland said McKinnon strangled Dent, buried her body in the garden, and "overexerted himself."
Rowland said, "He must have put the shovel down, taken two to three steps toward his truck, and dropped dead of a massive heart attack."
Now, what about a motive?
Neither friends nor relatives of either Joseph or Patricia have a clue.
The police are stymied so far in their quest to answer the question of motive.
Apparently, the only two people who know the answer are dead.
While I have your attention, I want to send a "Thank You, Very Much," to Erik Rivenes, the host of "Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast."
He invited me to chat about "The Murder of Thora Chamberlain: A Shocking True Crime Story."
Like to listen? Click here.
This is the most exciting true crime story I have written to date, not because of my work, but because it is such a fascinating tale. Like an editor of mine said once, "Sometimes you just have to spin a good yarn."
I think I have done that with "The Murder of Thora Chamberlain: A Shocking True Crime Story."