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Kelly warrant reveals details

Posted: March 6, 2014 4:56 p.m.
Updated: March 7, 2014 5:00 a.m.

An arrest warrant for murder served on Briana Rabon’s accused killer states that video surveillance shows the 18-year-old entering Stephen Ross Kelly’s car on the night of Feb. 25, just before her death.

The warrant affidavit, written by Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Sgt. Justin Dill states, in part, “Investigators with the Kershaw County Sheriff’s [Office] have obtained and reviewed surveillance video of the victim getting into a car operated by the Defendant, just prior to the victim’s death. The Defendant has provided a statement that he was the last person to see the victim alive and states he can not account for the whereabouts of the victim after that.”

During an interview Thursday afternoon, Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews clarified that investigators have so far only obtained and served the murder arrest warrant on Kelly. During a March 1 press conference, Matthews said investigators arrested Kelly on suspicion of murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual assault. Thursday, he said he is awaiting the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division’s official report on evidence the agency has processed before seeking the kidnapping and sexual assault warrants.

“It’s primarily DNA,” he said. “It could be from her car and his car and the crime scene.”

During the early days of the KCSO’s investigation, Matthews said investigators located Rabon’s red Ford Focus in the parking lot of the Waffle House near the I-20/U.S. 601 interchange. During the March 1 press conference, Matthews said surveillance from at least the neighboring Kangaroo convenience store helped investigators conclude that Rabon and Kelly, 21, met in Waffle House’s parking lot the night of Feb. 25. He identified Kelly’s vehicle as a late model Chevy Impala.

A group of teenagers discovered Rabon’s body on the afternoon of Feb. 26 in a wooded area just north of Haigs Creek subdivision, located south of Elgin near I-20. Following an autopsy, Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers said Rabon died of asphyxiation due to being strangled.

The KCSO arrested Kelly Feb. 28 after he allegedly made inconsistent statements during a voluntary interview and after his car was processed for evidence. Monday, Kelly waived his right to a bond hearing, keeping him at the Kershaw County Detention Center until his trial.

During Thursday’s interview, Matthews surmised that next steps could include a preliminary hearing and action by a grand jury. However, he said it was possible Kelly would not appear at those or any other hearings between now and a trial.

“We have some concerns for his safety if he leaves the jail,” Matthews said. “We’re obligated to him, his family and the public to keep (him and) any defendant safe because they are innocent until proven guilty.”

He said there are “a lot of angry people” in the community.

“There’s been some talk online, but there’s not been a specific threat,” he said.

During the March 1 press conference, Matthews said that Kelly and Rabon were acquaintances who both attended Lugoff-Elgin High School but that they were not in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Thursday, Matthews said there has been no further official indication of the extent of their acquaintance nor explanation for why they met the night of Rabon’s death.

(Editor Martin L. Cahn contributed to this report.)

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