Update (7/6/2020): An agent from the FBI retrieved three bullets from the Greenville County Courthouse today and will carry them to FBI headquarters in Quantico, VA for testing.
Agent Robert Hamod signed the bullets out of the Clerk of Court’s office at 10:39am. The signed exhibit authorization form filed in at the courthouse today allows the FBI to transport the bullets that killed the Rufus and Frank Looper and a third bullet found outside the garage where the shootings take place.
FBI forensic analysts will compare the bullets to a .32 Rossi revolver uncovered by Murder, etc. producers during the production of the podcast in October 2019.
According to the authorization form on file with the Clerk’s office, agents will return the bullets to the Greenville County Clerk of Court once the examination is finished.
The above information is an update to the story filed below.
June 24, 2020: A Greenville County judge has ordered Greenville Police to turn over a gun to the FBI so the weapon can be tested against the bullets that killed Greenville County deputy Lt. Frank Looper and his father, Rufus.
Judge Letitia Verdin signed the order Wednesday morning following an agreement between attorneys for Charles Wakefield, Jr. and 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins.
According to the order, the FBI will collect the bullets that killed the Loopers and a .32 Rossi revolver currently in police custody. An FBI agent will take the weapon and bullets to FBI headquarters in Quantico, VA for testing to determine if the Rossi fired the bullets that killed the Loopers.
Police recovered the weapon on October 31, 2019 after a Murder, etc. report that tied a Wakefield trial witness to a weapon of the same make and model as the suspected Looper murders weapon.
That report featured an interview with Don McIntyre, the son of trial witness Mae McIntyre. Don told Murder, etc. he found the gun among his mother’s possessions and that he believed his mother’s testimony against Wakefield wasn’t true.
Officer: Police knew about gun in 2017
In a videotaped interview with a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent, GPD Cold Case Detective Rick Woodall said police became aware of McIntyre’s .32 Rossi in September 2017. Murder, etc. obtained the interview through a Freedom of Information request.
Woodall told the SLED agent his fellow detective Don Belue interviewed McIntyre on September 19, 2017, and McIntyre told Belue about the gun. Belue never followed up with McIntyre to further investigate the weapon.
Woodall’s interview was part of an extensive SLED probe into a file discovered in a Greenville County Law Enforcement Center locker that officers said accused 1975 Sheriff Cash Williams of potentially being involved in the Looper murders.
Police found that file in 2018, but didn’t reveal the discovery to anyone outside the GPD until July 2019 when then-Chief Ken Miller told a city citizen board about it. Two months later, detectives told Miller they’d lost the file and couldn’t find it.
In a December 2019 letter to SLED, Miller asked for a criminal investigation into the missing file. Miller wrote, “Several concerns, taken collectively, compel the need for a review at the criminal level.”
SLED investigated the case for more than two months before submitting its findings to Solicitor Walt Wilkins who declined to prosecute.
Wilkins is the son of the 1975 solicitor, Billy Wilkins, who prosecuted Wakefield.
FBI will test second gun
In addition to the .32 Rossi, the FBI will test a second gun revealed during the SLED investigation at the GPD.
Several officers told SLED that prior Greenville police chiefs had kept a safe in their GPD office. During the tenure of Chief Mike Bridges, a one-time detective who testified against Wakefield, at least one officer said he saw documents related to the Looper murders inside the safe. Multiple officers confirmed the safe contained a pistol that killed GPD officer Frank Chasteen in 1971.
Chasteen’s partner, who was present the night of the murder, was Cold Case Detective Rick Woodall’s father. Woodall told SLED he’d asked about buying the gun for himself after the discovery.
When the GPD removed the safe from the chief’s office more than ten years ago, a detective returned the gun to the Property & Evidence room.
READ: JUDGE’S ORDER
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About Murder, etc.
GREENVILLE, SC: January 31, 1975: Lt. Frank Looper was about to break the biggest case of his life. On a warm winter afternoon, the county’s top drug cop walked out to his father’s garage. In minutes, they were both dead. Investigators said it was a botched midday robbery and sent a young man, Charles Wakefield, to Death Row. More than four decades later, Looper’s family believes the wrong man went to prison.
When the case is finally recorded in the giant county ledger of arrests and convictions, the charge is listed as Murder, etc. Over several decades, a deeper investigation reveals the et cetera might be a lot more important than anyone ever admitted… [MORE]