TRENTON, S.C. (WJBF) — The Sheriff of Edgefield County in South Carolina said evidence shows that Joseph McKinnon, 60, had strangled Patricia Dent,65, and was burying her in their backyard when he died of a heart attack. Sheriff Jody Rowland said police discovered Joseph McKinnon’s body first, before finding Dent’s body in a backyard pit.
Neighbors in Trenton, South Carolina were left with plenty of questions after Edgefield County Sheriff Deputies responded to Tanglewood drive on Saturday and discovered the two bodies. Dawn Howanietz, who lives just a block up from where the bodies were discovered, has lived in the area for just two years.
She voiced her concerns about not knowing was a danger to neighbors after those bodies were discovered. “At least let us know that it’s something they have in control or don’t have in control,” said Howanietz. “Do we have to make sure everything is locked up tight? Watch our dogs or our animals? We got a farmer back there too, you know. It’s scary.”
Police said the call initially came in as an unresponsive man lying in his yard, and that officers found McKinnon dead. He showed no signs of trauma, unlike the body of Dent, found in a fresh grave nearby. McKinnon and Dent lived together in the home.
An autopsy performed on Monday by County Coroner David Burnett reportedly confirmed that the heart attack took out McKinnon. Dent was strangled to death. Rowland said witness statements and evidence helped them build a timeline and determine that McKinnon attacked and killed Dent. Rowland said he bound the body, wrapped her in trash bags, put her in the previously dug pit, and suffered a heart attack while covering the corpse.