Elgin residents speak of slaying as a tragedy
By John Goyer
Campbell’s Grocery, located near Elgin’s sole caution light at U.S. 1 and Blaney Road, will extend credit to just about anybody known to the storekeepers – and that takes in just about everybody in Elgin.
The store was built in 1946 and stocks canned goods, Mason jars, meat, apples and Red Hots with the slogan “Candy is delicious food – eat some everyday” on the box. The clerk ties meat packages with string that hangs from an eye-hook over the meat counter. Pries are figured on an adding machine.
Campbell’s is at the heart of Elgin, a town hurt deeply this week by the fatal shooting of Thomas Edward Campbell, 72, who helped his son Claude run the store.
Kershaw County sheriff’s investigators arrested two men and a woman in connection with the slaying cousins Phillip Ansel Brown, 25, and Dale Anthony Brown, 21; and Myra Ann Jackson, 22. All three have been charged with armed robbery and murder. Phil and Dale Brown are being held without bond at the Central Correctional Institution; Miss Jackson is being held in the Women’s Correctional Center.
Phil Brown has signed a statement admitting to actually doing the shooting, an official soure close to the investigation confirmed.
All three suspects live about half a mile from Campbell’s house on Old Highway Church Road just outside Elgin, and the family of at least one suspect, Phil Brown, knew the Campbell clan well.
“You don’t have any animosity, you don’t have any hatred. You just feel hurt for both sides,” said a woman who is related to both families. Like most of those close to the heart of things in Elgin, she did not want to be identified.
The slaying, which occurred Saturday night at Campbell’s home, has shocked and hurt Elgin more than any other crime in memory, the woman said.
Prayers for those involved in the killings were said in at least two churches in Elgin last night, and people spoke of the killing as a tragedy.
According to stories being told in Elgin and confirmed by authorities, two men entered Campbell’s house Saturday night by kicking in a panel in the front door after a woman had driven the two to the house and left.
Authorities believe the two waitedfor Campbell, who left his store about 10:40 Saturday night.
Campbell, carrying groceries in his arms, entered a side door at his house. Claude Campbell said his father probably did not notice anything amiss because he did not enter at the front door.
Campbell unlocked the side door and stepped into his kitchen. A man was waiting for him behind the door. As Campbell turned to close the door, the man shot him once with a .38-caliber pistol. The bullet entered the left side of his cheek and exited the left side of his neck.
Campbell began to struggle with his attacker, ripping off a ski mask the attacker wore.
The elderly man ran through his house, evidently looking for a weapon. Investigators found all three of Campbell’s guns in some hedges outside the house.
Campbell went from the kitchen to the front door, to a bedroom at the back of the house and then into a hallway, where he was shot twice more in the rib cage and stomach. One shot hit him as he stood in the hallway and a second shot struck him as he lay on the floor.
He was robbed of personal money he carried on him, Claude Campbell said. Officials said the robbers ripped Campbell’s billfold from his pocket and took $250 from the billfold.
The elderly man bled to death from his wounds. He was found the next afternoon by his daughter Vivian Gardner and her husband, Harvey Gardner, who lives across the street, and by Calude Campbell.
Following the shooting a woman picked up the two men from the house.
Investigators went to Dale Brown’s mobile home, where he lived with Miss Jackson, after reciving a description of the car driven by the woman from a witness.
Investigators questioned Miss Jackson.
Dale Brown returned to the mobile home during the questioning.
He and Miss Jackson were arrested about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday at the trailer.
Phil Brown was arrested about three hours later at his parent’s two-story brick home down the road.
Authorities have not found the pistol used in the shooting. A fourth Man earlier considered a suspect apparently is no longer under suspicion. Kershaw Sheriff L. L. “Hector” DeBruhl said no more arrest will be made in the case.
One of the first things people in Elgin will tell you about the shooting is how well they knew the grocer and the suspects and even how closely they were related to them.
Of three men standing around talking outside the town hall last night, two claimed to be related to two of the suspects.
Campbell was the eldest son in a family of 12 children, and he lived all his life in Camden and Elgin. Campbell’s father was a grocer in Camden.
Campbell’s father was a grocer in Camden.
Campbell opened his first store near the present one in 1939. He opened a second store in Lugoff in 1940 or 41, according to Claude Campbell, the victim’s son, before opening the present store.
The grocery lived in a one-story brick home situated on about 165 acres of land.
“He was the type of person, he didn’t care about traveling much. At an early age he came upon hard times. He lived a simple life. He didn’t care about traveling to the beaches and to the mountains. He enjoyed coming here and working, and he enjoyed going home and working,” Calude Campbell recalled.
The elderly man, whose health seemed good, did light farm work on his land. He liked to fish and hunt, his son said.
The grocer lived about about a mile and a half from the intersection of Old Blaney Road and Old Highway Church Road outside of Elgin. A further half-mile down Old Highway church Road lived Andrea “Beau” Brown and his wife Betty Brown, Phil Brown’s parents. Beau Brown is employed at Dupont’s plant near Elgin.
Wayne Brown, Dale’s father, is retired from the Air Force. James Jackson, father of Miss Jackson, is a truck driver.
All three of the suspect attended Lugoff-Elgin High School. Miss Jackson worked as a waitress at a Dentsville restaurant; people in Elgin were unsure what the Brown cousins did for a living.
All three of the suspects knew Campbell. “I can remember them when I was little, them going out there and getting credit” from Campbell’s store, said one life-long Elgin resident.
Since the arrest Tuesday morning, Claude Campbell has spoken to Beau Brown, and everybody in Elgin said the two families are not feuding over the crime.
“It’s been such a shock to us,” said Marvin Campbell, youngest of the 12 Campbell children. “We haven’t really come to our senses, really. We feel so sorry for the families of the suspects, too. We know them personally; they’ve been our friends all along. It’s just such a shock to us.”