Story by Judith Brown and John Clayton
David and Deborah Anderson are holding out hope that one of the victims of a brutal double murder near Myrtle Beach is not their son.
The Laurens couple has been in contact with Horry County police, who have arrested four men and charged them with murder and other crimes after two bodies were discovered Friday morning in a burned vehicle in the Socastee area.
Rumors on social media among acquaintances of the couple’s son, Shawn Anderson, 35, claim that he was one of the victims. The Horry County Coroner’s Office has yet to identify the victims, but said two identities have been discovered through the course of the investigation. Authorities will have to resort to DNA tests to verify the identities of the victims.
“We’re hoping and praying it’s completely different from the information we’ve been given,” David Anderson said.
“I was at work Friday night when I got a call from one of Shawn’s friends, who said he’d been killed at the beach.”
The four suspects in the double murder were denied bond at a Sunday hearing.
Horry County police have charged Michael W. Fail, 37, with two counts of murder. David L. Cook, 44, is charged with two counts of murder, one count of arson and possession of heroin. William D. Tatum, 37, is charged with two counts of murder, one count of arson, one count of trafficking heroin and one count of possession of a scheduled narcotic. Zachary Stell, 31, was charged with two counts of murder and arson.
Reports in the Myrtle Beach Sun-News said Stell’s arrest affidavit, Stell and Cook lured the victims to a location where they were “shot multiple times.” Reports also said other arrests could be forthcoming on related drug charges once additional warrants come in.
David Anderson said his son moved to Myrtle Beach two years ago. The two had spoken early last week.
According to the Sun-News, Faile’s arrest warrant states that Tatum told investigators that Faile hired Cook and Stell to find one pound of stolen heroin or fentanyl.
“I just talked to him Tuesday,” Anderson said. “He was doing real well and had just bought a car.”
Anderson said he spoke with “about 15 people” at the Horry County police department before getting some answers on the phone Friday.
A detective was to come to the Anderson’s residence in Laurens to retrieve DNA evidence and Shawn Anderson’s dental records to assist in the identification process. If dental records are usable, a positive identification could be made in a matter of days, but it could take much longer if DNA must be relied upon.
“There’s really no definitive answers from what I’ve heard from different people, and I’ve heard different stories,” David Anderson said Monday. “Until the detective gets here, where I can sit down face to face and ask him questions, I won’t know.
“And I don’t know how much he’ll tell me because of the case being under investigation.”
David Anderson said the rumors making the rounds on social media and conflicting news reports of what really happened Friday make things particularly difficult on the family.
“What’s hard is all the rumors,” David Anderson said. “The stupid people that know him – and they’re posting out there (on social media) that he’s gone, and we don’t know that.”