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Probe continues in fatal stabbing

Camden woman killed in Manning

Posted: November 29, 2011 4:48 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Christopher Heck

Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett says his office is running down a timeline to establish exactly when 47-year-old Charlotte Altman of Camden was murdered at her family’s lake home in Manning.

Altman died from multiple stab wounds she received at the lake home, which she had been visiting on weekends, according to Garrett. Authorities are unsure of the exact time of the attack, he said, but believe she may have surprised a burglar when she arrived.

Christopher Heck, 28, of Huntington, W.Va., has been charged with first-degree murder and burglary in connection with Altman’s death, Garrett reported. Heck was stopped around 7:20 p.m. Nov. 23 for suspicion of driving under the influence by Trooper A.B. Fox with the S.C. Highway Patrol DUI Enforcement Team. That traffic stop eventually tied Heck to Altman.

Days earlier, Clarendon County Sheriff’s Investigator Rick Richards had visited Heck at his grandmother’s home next door to Altman’s home in Manning. Garrett said Heck was suspected of having been involved in several burglaries in the county. Richards left the grandmother’s home without any new information from Heck but gave him his business card if he wanted to talk later. That business card was found in Heck’s wallet after he was arrested for DUI.

Garrett said Heck’s car was “packed full of stuff” when he was stopped, with the only room in the car being the driver’s seat. A stash of pills was found in the car, Garrett said, and, in addition to DUI, Heck was charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Heck would not discuss the contents of the car with Fox, Garrett said.

Fox contacted Richards a little more than an hour after the traffic stop to advise him of Heck’s arrest. The day after Thanksgiving, Fox and Richards began a thorough search of the car and found personal belongings -- including the cell phone and identification -- of Altman, Garrett said.

Richards went to Altman’s home and discovered the back door broken. Inside, Garrett said, Altman was found dead in the kitchen. Her two dogs were found unharmed in another room of the house.

Garrett praised Fox’s diligence in pursuing the case and helping Richards in his investigation.

“Trooper Fox just went above and beyond duty,” Garrett said. “He could have stopped with the ticket, but he kept digging.”

Garrett said Heck is being held at the Clarendon County Detention Center without bond.

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