ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Linda McCord, 33, Sarah Boyd, 32, and Boyd’s daughter Kimberly Boyd, 2 ½, left Harleyville on Friday, Apr. 3, 1987, in Linda’s blue Lincoln car to attend gospel singing at a church in Walterboro, 40 miles away in Colleton County.
When they failed to return home later that night, McCord’s husband called the police to report them missing. Boyd’s husband, Philip J. Boyd, did the same when she and Kimberly never made it home by 6 a.m. Saturday, Apr. 4.
On Sunday, Apr. 5, the husband of one of the women and Lt. William Martin of the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office found the McCord car near Wells Crossroad in the Holly Hill area, about 40 miles from Walterboro and 15 miles north of Harleyville at the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and 176.
Police discovered that a freeze plug had blown out of the vehicle, and the engine overheated, disabling the car. Whoever was driving it could drive no further after that.
The abandoned car sat there for days. Chief Investigator Nathanial Hubbard tried unsuccessfully to reach Lt. Claude Majors of the Dorchester County Sheriff Office. Majors was in charge of the investigation. Deputy Sheriff Ernest Wigfall told Hubbard the McCord car was still parked in Orangeburg County.
By Apr. 11, Majors said he could place the missing trio in “Walterboro between 10:30 and 11 p.m. on Friday and in Dorchester County around 11:30 p.m.” However, his department had no idea what happened to them after that time. Majors said they know the car was at the Wells Crossroad location at least 10 hours or more. A witness saw the vehicle around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 4, but thought nothing of it.
The Charley Project states that “a witness saw the blue Lincoln driving between 30 and 45 miles per hour around Route 15. Another car was behind it, but the witness was unable to describe the second vehicle or its occupant (s).”
At the end of April, Dorchester authorities asked Orangeburg County to help search for the missing trio. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents also assisted in the search, which covered a half-mile radius of the Wells Crossroads intersection and a portion of U.S. Highway 15 to Interstate 26. Authorities from both departments combed the wooded area looking for clues to what happened to the trio but found nothing.
Even though the car was found in Orangeburg County, OCSO was not actively involved in the investigation.
Dorchester County Sheriff Carl Knight claimed they had a few suspects in the case, but he never named anyone in particular. It did not take long for the case to go cold.
In late July 1987, a SLED pilot flew a plane in Dorchester County to search for the trio. He discovered three acres of well-tended marijuana fields with a street value of $20 million. It had no connection to the missing trio.
In August 1987, authorities offered a $6,000 reward for information regarding the missing trio, but no one came forward.
I could not find any more information on Linda, Sarah, and Kimberly after August 1987 other than what Meaghan Good reported on The Charley Project. Good also noted that an unidentified person used Sarah Boyd’s credit card in a local mall in 1990. The signature was barely legible and did not match Sarah’s handwriting.
Sheriff Carl Knight lost re-election in 1988. Since 2009, Knight’s son, L.C. Knight, has been the Dorchester County sheriff. The elder Knight passed away in 1999 at the age of 80.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
This case is weird, but I believe the trio was killed on Apr. 3, 1987, the night they vanished. Was this a hate crime or something else? We know the trio made it back to Dorchester County at 11:30 p.m. Who saw them? Where in Dorchester County?
It’s the fact that the women made it back to Dorchester County that night that bothers me. Did someone from the church follow them?
The car was found 15 miles north of Harleyville in neighboring Orangeburg County. I think whoever killed them drove the car to dump it. Someone followed behind in another car to give the killer a ride back home. They did not expect the car to break down.
One witness saw a car following McCord’s car. How could that person know it was her car but was not able to describe the other vehicle?
What if a cop pulled them over in Dorchester County?
When I first read about this case, my initial thought was that it might have been a hate crime. I mean, we’re talking South Carolina, and the victims were black. While race relations had improved post-1964, the KKK was still very active throughout the South in the 80s. However, I don’t think they were nearly as violent as in the past. According to a March 1987 Times and Democrat article, active KKK members had recently staged a march in Orangeburg.
Judging from its history, members would not have hesitated to kill two black women and a black child. I’m not sure that is the case here, of course.
I read a bit about Sheriff Carl Knight. He held that position from 1960 to 1988. He did not come across as racist and had even hired the department’s first black police officer, Ernest Moultrie. But who knows?
Did DCSO do all they could to find the women? I’m not so sure. Did they fingerprint the Lincoln? What was inside the vehicle? Keys? Purses? Did they interview people at the gospel concert? What about the women’s spouses? Did LE search the two nearby lakes?
There are too many unanswered questions, but I hope their families find closure one day.