Hampton County correctional officer charged with murdering wife
VARNVILLE - A Hampton County Detention Center correctional officer was arrested Monday and charged with the murder of his wife.
Charles Bradley Croom, 39, of 113 Shady Lane, Varnville, was charged with murder after the body of his wife, Heather D. Croom, 26, of the same address, was found dumped in a ditch near Frampton Cemetery off Old Salkehatchie Road late Sunday evening by two out-of-town turkey hunters.
"The body was found in a deep ditch and we were very lucky these hunters just happened to find her," Hampton County Coroner Gordon Rhoden said. "If they hadn't seen her there's no telling how long it would have been before the body was found."
Rhoden said the body of the victim appeared to have been in the ditch less than 24 hours. An autopsy conducted Tuesday revealed that the victim died of asphyxiation caused by strangulation. There were no other injuries to the body, said Rhoden.
The death is believed to be the result of a domestic dispute that escalated, said a Hampton County Sheriff's Office spokesperson. The victim died at her residence, according to a death notice released Wednesday morning.
Croom had been employed as a Private First Class Correctional Officer at the Hampton County Detention Center since July 25, 2007, but detention center officials said that Croom had no criminal record at the Hampton County Sheriff's Office and they had received no complaints against Croom. He came to Hampton County from West Virginia where he had worked at a pizza restaurant.
Heather Croom, born in Bath, Maine, was a homemaker who family members said enjoyed caring for her children, quilting, cooking, skiing and attending the Spirit of Life Church in Varnville. She is survived by her parents, Jay and Diane Redimarker of Berwick, Maine, and other relatives.
Funeral services for the victim will be held Friday at 4 p.m. at the Spirit of Life Church.
The couple had three children, who were initially placed in the custody of the Hampton County Department of Social Services after the incident.
Croom was arraigned Tuesday afternoon by Hampton County Magistrate Carolyn Williams and is currently being detained at the Colleton County Detention Center. He is in the process of being assigned an attorney, a spokesperson with the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office said Wednesday morning.
Croom will now go before a circuit court judge for a bond hearing. That hearing would be scheduled by the Solicitor's Office and could be as early as the next term of General Sessions in Hampton County set to begin May 18.
The Hampton County Sheriff's Office is currently in charge of the investigation.
This was the fire reported homicide in Hampton County in 2009, said Rhoden. The second homicide of the year occurred less than 24 hours later during a shooting incident in Scotia.
Updates on this story will be posted at www.hamptoncountyguardian.com as the investigation continues.