Two unrelated serial kidnappers worked the same South Carolina region at the same time, police say. But while one kidnapper allegedly met his victims at a Waffle House, the other allegedly buried his victim behind a different Waffle House approximately 30 minutes down the road.
On Monday, Greenville police charged 28-year-old Markius Yeargin with Henrietta Crawford’s kidnapping and murder, one in a series of escalating October attacks, police say. Yeargin’s alleged crimes bear an eerie resemblance to those of Todd Kohlhepp, an alleged serial killer accused of murdering seven people, including a couple he allegedly met at a Waffle House, and keeping one woman locked in a shipping container on his Spartanburg County property, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her. Kohlhepp and Yeargin allegedly conducted their kidnappings in overlapping regions in fall 2016.
Crawford had been dead for over two weeks when a hunter found her burned remains in a wooded area behind the Waffle House, according to Yeargin’s arrest warrant. Police charged Yeargin with kidnapping her and burning her body in an attempt to conceal evidence.
The attack, which police believe to have taken place on Oct. 20, was the third in an escalating series of violent assaults, police said. Three days earlier, Yeargin allegedly kidnapped a woman at gunpoint, forcing her into his car, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her, choked her, and told her he would kill her, according to warrants obtained by WYFF. On Oct. 2, he allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted another woman in his car, this time at knifepoint.
On Nov. 18, police arrested Yeargin for the two nonfatal attacks. But it would be two more months before they connected him to Crawford’s murder, which they say capped off his month-long crime spree.
“Investigators were able to sort through various pieces of evidence and ultimately charged Yeargin with Murder, Kidnapping and Obstructing Justice,” the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office told The Daily Beast in a statement.
Yeargin was denied bond for his one count of murder, one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of weapons possession, two counts of sexual assault, and three counts of kidnapping.
Allegations of a serial kidnapper are too familiar in Yeargin’s region of South Carolina. In October, the area made national news when Kala Brown and Charlie Carver, a young couple from nearby Anderson County went mysteriously missing for months, while an unidentified person continued post disturbing messages from Carver’s Facebook account. On Nov. 3, two months after the couple’s disappearance, police found Brown chained by the neck in a storage container on a rural property in Spartanburg County. Brown told officials that Kohlhepp, an area realtor, had lured her and Carver to the property under the pretense of cleaning his house. But when they arrived on the site, Kohlhepp shot Carver, and locked Brown in the metal storage container, where he subjected her to months of sexual assault, Brown alleged.
Days after Kohlhepp’s arrest, he allegedly confessed to gunning down four employees at a motorcycle shop in 2003, a mass murder that had puzzled police for a decade. Horrific discoveries continued throughout the week as police began excavating the property. On Nov. 7, the same day a hunter discovered Crawford’s body in nearby Greenville, police uncovered the bodies of Meagan and Johnny Coxie, a young married couple, who had been missing since December 2015. Like with Brown and Carver, Kohlhepp may have lured the couple to his property with the promise of work, relatives said.
Meagan Coxie worked at a Waffle House in Spartanburg, some 30 minutes from the Waffle House where Crawford was buried. Kohlhepp was a frequent customer at Coxie’s restaurant, and was known to “creep” on waitresses, former employees told CBS. But shortly before the couple’s disappearance, Meagan reportedly told her mother she had another job lined up. Four days later the couple was reported missing.
“I know for a fact he didn’t just pick her up off the street, he met her there,” Meagan’s former coworker at the Roebuck Waffle House told CBS of Coxie’s connection with Kohlhepp.
The couple would not be seen again until Nov. 7, when at a different Waffle House 30 miles away, police were working on their second serial-kidnapping case that day.