Authorities were called to the home of Joseph McKinnon, 60, for a report ‘of an unresponsive male lying in his yard’.
The Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that they were called to the Trenton home of Joseph McKinnon, 60, on 7 May for a report “of an unresponsive male lying in his yard”.
When deputies arrived, they noticed that alongside McKinnon’s dead body was a shallow grave where they later uncovered a second dead person, 65-year-old Patricia Ruth Dent, who reportedly lived at the same address on Tanglewood Drive.
“Mr. McKinnon had no signs of trauma and natural causes were suspected,” Edgefield’s County Sheriff Jody Rowland and County Coroner David Burnett said.
“While investigating the death and making notifications to the next of kin, a second body, was located in a freshly dug pit,” they said, at the time noting that they suspected she had “died by foul play”.
After autopsies were performed by Mr Burnett on Monday, he announced that McKinnon had died from a cardiac event, while Dent’s cause of death confirmed officers’ initial suspicions that she died from strangulation.
Sheriff Rowland said investigators were able to build a timeline that placed Dent inside McKinnon’s home at the time of the deadly attack after collecting statements from evidence collected at the scene and witnesses in the small town of Trenton, which according to recent US Census estimates hovers at around 200 residents.
“Mr. McKinnon then bound her and wrapped her in trash bags before putting her in the previously dug pit,” he said in the release. “The pit was then partially filled in by Mr. McKinnon. While covering the pit, Mr. McKinnon had the cardiac event, causing his death.”
The Independent reached out to the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office for comment on the case.