Updated 1:30 p.m.
Greenwood County deputies have released the names of six people— four adults and two children— who were found dead in a home in a suspected mass murder-suicide. Sheriff Tony Davis said it appears that 27-year-old Bryan Eugene Sweatt took his girlfriend’s family hostage, killed them, and then himself. Davis said Sweatt was involved in a custody dispute with his live-in girlfriend 26-year-old Chandra Marie Fields.
Fields’ body was found in the home, along with her parents 51-year-old Richard Allen Fields and 49-year-old Melissa Maroney Fields. Chandra’s nephews 11-year-old Tariq Kenyon Robinson and 9-year-old William Asa Robinson were also found dead, Davis said.
The sheriff said four other children were able to escape the killings by fleeing to a neighbor’s home.
“There were four kids that were released from the scene and sent next door. One of the children was his,” Davis told reporters in a news conference. “Two of the children were from the neighbors next door.”
Sweatt and Chandra Fields had a 7-month-old child together. Davis said that child was brought safely to the neighbor’s home by one of the other children.
Davis said investigators do not know when Sweatt arrived at the home and whether or not he had planned the murders.
“Our problem is that we don’t know what time he went inside the home. We think he was in the house waiting when the residents came home. He would’ve gotten in probably by a forced entry,” Davis said.
South Carolina Radio Network has confirmed that Sweatt had an extensive arrest record and was out on bond on burglary charges. Davis said Sweatt was scheduled to be in court for a sentencing hearing on Tuesday but did not appear. He faced up to 30 years in prison. Davis told reporters that his office would not normally receive a bench warrant until several days after a suspect skips out on a court appearance.
Davis said SWAT team members found the bodies Tuesday night while responding to a 911 call from a man who said he was thinking about hurting himself. While deputies were responding to the home south of Greenwood, they said they received another 911 call from a neighbor who told dispatchers that four children had fled to her house after hearing gunshots. The sheriff said the SWAT team found the bodies in different rooms.
The one-story home is located on South Carolina Highway 67, a few miles south of Greenwood.
The State Law Enforcement Division is assisting with the investigation.