Story by Judith Brown and John Clayton
An agonizing five days of waiting on news of their son ended Tuesday for David and Deborah Anderson when it was confirmed that their son, Shawn Anderson, was a victim in a brutal double murder Friday near Myrtle Beach.
The Laurens couple had been in contact with Horry County police, who 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. Tuesday evening David Anderson confirmed in a Facebook post that Shawn Anderson, 35, was one of the two men killed.
“OK, so this is not how I wanted to do this,” the post read. “It’s already out. It was confirmed that Shawn Anderson was murdered.”
Rumors on social media among acquaintances of the couple’s son, Shawn Anderson, claimed that he was one of the victims. The Horry County Coroner’s Office could not immediately identify the victims, but said two identities have been discovered through the course of the investigation. Shawn Anderson was ultimately identified along with Matthew Autry, 29, a Rock Hill native.
“We’re hoping and praying it’s completely different from the information we’ve been given,” David Anderson said Monday.
“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 stated that 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 Andersons’ residence in Laurens to retrieve DNA evidence and Shawn Anderson’s dental records to assist in the identification process.
David Anderson said the rumors making the rounds on social media and conflicting news reports of what really happened Friday made things particularly difficult on family members as they awaited concrete news and prayed their son was somehow still alive.