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Polk sheriff details crime spree of Polk murder suspects

Murder victim’s brother speaks of Horne’s life

By Leah Justice

leah.justice@tryondailybulletin.com

Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill and Capt. BJ Bayne detailed a crime spree they say three suspects, two being charged with first-degree murder went on last week that span through several states, including South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Thursday, April 7 and announced they have issued first-degree murder warrants on Quintae Darelle Edwards, 23, of Simpsonville, S.C. and Kwame Fernanders, 22, of Spartanburg, S.C. in the homicide of Destry Horne, 51, of Lilesville, N.C. who was murdered on Thursday, March 31 on the on ramp of U.S. 74 in Columbus.

Hill said Horne was a “hard-working gentleman who lost his life here in my county.”

Hill spoke of how proud he is of his investigators and thanked other agencies who helped in the case, particularly Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright and N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) agents.

Three suspects were identified through surveillance footage from the BP in Columbus just across Hwy. 108, where the murder occurred. Originally officers suspected four suspects, two women and two men, but later discovered it was three suspects. The third suspect is Kayla Brown, 19, who as of late Thursday had not been charged in the murder.

“They were on a pretty good crime spree,” Hill said. “These individuals have a record.”

He spoke of how the judicial system let the Horne family down, because in Hill’s opinion, the ones charged should still be in prison for previous crimes, including armed robberies, sexual assault, larcenies and domestic violence.

Hill said the sheriff’s office believes they know the motive for the murder, but can’t say at the moment.

“(Horne) was a random victim,” Hill said. “A man who was just trying to work and make a living.”

Hill said he is 99.8 percent confident that they have the people responsible for Horne’s death.

“There’s some evidence I’m waiting for that’s pretty much going to seal the deal,” Hill said.

The three suspects are currently being held in Leon County, Florida, where they are accused of a home invasion involving duct taping four individuals and kidnapping one of them to take to an ATM. Florida officers found a weapon on the suspects, which Hill said has been taken to Raleigh to be tested. Hill wouldn’t say what type of weapon it is, other than it was a handgun used to kill Horne.

Hill said it’s aggravating that the suspects have long criminal histories, saying they shouldn’t have been out there.

“It could have been my mom and dad,” Hill said. “It could have been anybody here’s family members.”

He referred to the suspects as a bunch of thugs, saying they should go out there and get a job. Hill said if nothing else he hopes prison is now their home from here on out.

Hill also said the two charged with murder are gang members in the Upstate and their gang could be the same one as the man charged with the murder of Greenville Police Officer Allen Jacobs in March.

The sheriff’s office is working with district attorney Greg Newman on possible charges on Black.

Bayne said Polk started with the homicide and tracked the crime spree back to basically the night before. The suspects are suspected of stealing the Ford Mustang they drove to Polk County out of Greer as well as committing an armed robbery in Landrum shortly after the March 31 murder. Bayne said they face charges out of Spartanburg, Greer and Landrum as well as Polk County and Florida and there are still days and days left of interviews. She said she knows of at least eight places that could have been victims of the suspects during the crime spree.

The suspects will stay in Florida until being extradited to Polk County with an unknown timeframe. The governor will have to issue a governor’s warrant to be sent to Florida before they are extradited to Polk County.

“Once (the governor) does that I’m going to shackle their legs and bring them back,” Hill said.

Hill said the sheriff’s office may go get the suspects or it may be the U.S. Marshals.

Hill and Bayne did say they are linking the Landrum convenience store armed robbery to the suspects as well, but the Landrum Police Department will take out charges for that crime. Hill said in processing forensics on the Mustang, the Landrum armed robbery was resolved.

Bayne said the sheriff’s office believes Black had a relationship with one of the other suspects when asked about the relationship of the suspects.

Bayne also thanked officers with Spartanburg County, Leon County, Florida, Gainesville, Florida detectives, the SBI and everyone else who helped in this case, including the Landrum and Tryon Police Departments. She said every agency stepped in and tried to help each other and they all worked so well together.

Destry Horne’s life

Destry Horne’s brother, Terry Horne, also spoke to the media on Thursday.

Terry Horne said Destry had a wife, two daughters, a son and a grandson who is only seven weeks old, “whom he’ll never have any kind of relationship with.”

Services were held for Destry this week, with Terry Horne saying he didn’t realize until the outpouring of support from the community how important Destry was to his community.

Destry Horne was from Lilesville, in Anson County, which Terry Horne described as about the size of Polk and very rural.

“(Destry) was in many respects an ordinary guy but he had extraordinary gifts,” Terry Horne said.

He spoke of hundreds that came to his brother’s visitation and memorial service this week.

“One of the things we’ve heard so much about is how much his smile meant and how much his good humor meant to people,” Terry Horne said. “He enjoyed sharing with folks. He was a bit of a cook. I truly believe he enjoyed sharing his food more than he enjoyed cooking it.”

Terry Horne also said his brother was a gardener.

“He was an extraordinary, extraordinary brother and this is difficult to accept,” Terry Horne said. “It’s difficult to understand, as you can tell. This family, this community won’t overcome it anytime soon.”

Terry Horne said on behalf of his family he would like to express their appreciation to Hill, Bayne, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the SBI and various departments in South Carolina and Florida for their work on the case.

He said the family is still in shock as his brother’s death is still very raw, but the family could have still been wondering years down the road what happened.

Hill said DA Newman will likely hold another press conference sometime next week for more questions and to detail how the process will go from here as far as the prosecution and what the DA’s office plans to pursue in this case. Hill was referring to Newman informing the public whether or not he can or will seek the death penalty for the murder.

Following is a Polk County Sheriff’s Office press release that details the timeline of the three suspects crime spree last week:

On March 31, Polk County Communications received an E-911 call from an individual whom reported a motor vehicle accident that another truck had hit his tractor and trailer. When officers arrived from the Columbus Police Department they found the driver of the front vehicle was deceased from what appeared to have been a gunshot wound. The Columbus officer notified the communications center requesting an investigator from the sheriff’s office with the location being outside of city limits.

Upon arrival of investigators from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations was requested to assist in the investigation. The scene was processed as an unattended death. The body of Mr. Destry Horne was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital where the medical examiner’s officer had the body sent to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, to the N.C. State Medical Examiner’s Office and an autopsy was performed. A preliminary finding from the autopsy showed the victim, Mr. Horne, in fact died as a result of a non-self-inflicted gunshot wound.

After canvassing the area, video footage was obtained from area businesses to see if anyone was seen on camera. Video obtained from a store near where the shooting took place revealed what investigators believed to be four individuals, two males and two females that had done business just prior to the 911 call being placed regarding the motor vehicle accident. These photos were then forwarded to the news outlets seeking the public’s help in identifying the individuals. Numerous calls and tips came into the sheriff’s office with information that later identified the indivuduals as Quintae Edwards, Kwame Fernanders and Kayla Black.

April1, investigators learned that a 2007 Ford Mustang with the same description as in the surveillance video from the store had been stolen from a car lot in Greer, S.C. At this point investigators obtained video from the dealership and Greer and at that point they believed they were looking to identify the same people.

On Saturday, April 2, an off-duty South Carolina law enforcement officer observed three individuals fitting the descriptions sent out by Polk County Sheriff’s Office in a restaurant in Boiling Springs, S.C. The officer immediately notified Spartanburg County Emergency Communication Center. Officers were dispatched to the area. When officers arrived a chase pursued with a Mustang that was believed to be the one that Polk sheriff investigators were looking for. Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office found the car abandoned. The vehicle was identified as the missing vehicle that had been reported stolen from the dealership in Greer.

Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office were able to obtain warrants against the individuals for larceny of motor vehicle for vehicle thefts they were investigating that took place a week prior. Polk County investigators took warrants out against them for possession of a stolen vehicle in Polk County. Both agencies entered them into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a national database for wanted people. Investigators from Polk Sheriff’s Office were assisted by the Spartanburg County investigators in following up on leads that continued to come in from Spartanburg, S.C.

On April 3 in Gainesville, Florida, it is believed the three suspects entered into a home and duct taped the individuals inside the residence. Then forced one of the occupants to an ATM where they obtained an undisclosed amount of cash before returning back to the residence. A female was then forced to go with the suspects. Law enforcement was contacted and began an investigation and an attempt to locate the individuals in question. The suspects were located in a motel in Leon County two or three hours away from Gainesville, Florida. Florida authorities arrested the three and charged them all with home invasion and kidnapping.

Investigators from Polk County Sheriff’s Office and SBI traveled to Florida and conducted several interviews with Edwards, Fernanders and Black. As a result of these interviews, charges for first-degree murder were issued against Edwards and Fernanders. The two will be extradited back to Polk County once their charges in Florida have been adjudicated.