Identified! Mystery couple murdered in South Carolina, 1976 - Pamela Buckley & James Freund #10

worm

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LGH was charged with a federal crime. If he was an informant for a local agency or knew higher ups that were local, would that matter? Like if it was just a state or local felony, he might have gotten off because of who he knew? But since it was a federal offense he couldn’t get out of it? I honestly don’t know. I’m not even sure I believe he could have been an informant or something similar, but obviously things don’t add up.

I haven’t signed on with the informant thing either. If so, I’m sure local cops could influence feds if he was indeed a help to their efforts. Do we know the outcome of the federal case?
 

MadMcGoo

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I haven’t signed on with the informant thing either. If so, I’m sure local cops could influence feds if he was indeed a help to their efforts. Do we know the outcome of the federal case?
According to this article he plead guilty to the charge, but I’m not sure I’ve ever read exactly what the punishment was...
 

Magnum P.E.

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LGH was charged with a federal crime. If he was an informant for a local agency or knew higher ups that were local, would that matter? Like if it was just a state or local felony, he might have gotten off because of who he knew? But since it was a federal offense he couldn’t get out of it? I honestly don’t know. I’m not even sure I believe he could have been an informant or something similar, but obviously things don’t add up.
I have seen informants put IN to jail to befriend a particular guy in there and get him to talk. I knew a guy who was in minor trouble (nothing violent, accidentally receiving stolen goods at a flea market, in jail overnight and charges dropped) and the state police wanted bigger fish, so he got a new cellmate. He told me it was fairly inept and transparent, and he was released when they found he had nothing to add.
Sometimes cops at different levels do talk to each other and as a courtesy will let another organization’s informant skate. It is a symbiotic relationship, if the informant wants his competitors out of business, he can rat them out to LE. Of course, an informant’s life is worth 2 cents if he is incarcerated and others know or suspect it. If they are moved from jail to jail that is a strong sign.
I am not saying that he was absolutely an informant, I am just saying that it may explain some unusual treatment by LE. We have to accept that we may never know this. It makes more sense than Argentine death squads, or all the other ridiculous soap opera crap that people dream up here.
Remember, this is the Websleuths Unidentified forum, and they are now identified.


On the other hand, maybe that gun was fleeing an abusive relationship with its holster, or left its gun cabinet for Gunspringa and never returned :).......
 

shellbee

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Snipped.

The more I mull this case over, the more I have a hard time believing that this crime was committed by a 58-year-old alcoholic with no known history of committing similar crimes. LGH was an old man by 1970s standards—even more so when you consider how much drinking ages a person.

Of course, it's possible that he did have a history of similar crimes but simply avoided detection, but I think it's more likely that he was covering for a younger family member or for someone who had some kind of influence over him (like someone whose payroll he was on, for instance).

He likely knew or suspected who had killed James and Pamela. He didn't tell LE, but maybe he spilled his guts to someone who's still alive. That sort of hearsay wouldn't be admissible in court, but it could help solve the mystery.

I also find it hard to believe, and highly unlikely that an alcoholic in late middle age, with little or no criminal record, would assassinate two people he didn't know for no discernible reason. I think law enforcement understood this too.

So what happened here? Why did LGH have the murder weapon? Personally, I'm not sure it was the murder weapon.

Ballistic matching isn't a science. It's wholly subjective. The examiner does a side by side visual comparison then offers his or her "expert" opinion. There is no consensus regarding the number of individual characteristics, lands, grooves, etc., required to declare a match. An examiner could consider samples with only one or two similar characteristics or markings a match.

Additionally, there are several other factors that can impact the accuracy of ballistics. Bullets and cartridge cases that are fired from different guns might have similar markings, especially if the guns were manufactured at the same facility, within the same time frame. Passage of time, how a gun is cared for, frequency of use and method of storage can also impact the reliability of ballistic matches.

In 2008 the Detroit Police Department's crime lab was shut down after an audit by the state of Michigan found a 10 percent error rate in ballistics identification.

Finally, keep in mind the ballistics in this case are 40 years old. Photography has improved significantly since that time. In the very least, LE should rerun the tests.
 

Betty P

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I have seen informants put IN to jail to befriend a particular guy in there and get him to talk. I knew a guy who was in minor trouble (nothing violent, accidentally receiving stolen goods at a flea market, in jail overnight and charges dropped) and the state police wanted bigger fish, so he got a new cellmate. He told me it was fairly inept and transparent, and he was released when they found he had nothing to add.
Sometimes cops at different levels do talk to each other and as a courtesy will let another organization’s informant skate. It is a symbiotic relationship, if the informant wants his competitors out of business, he can rat them out to LE. Of course, an informant’s life is worth 2 cents if he is incarcerated and others know or suspect it. If they are moved from jail to jail that is a strong sign.
I am not saying that he was absolutely an informant, I am just saying that it may explain some unusual treatment by LE. We have to accept that we may never know this. It makes more sense than Argentine death squads, or all the other ridiculous soap opera crap that people dream up here.
Remember, this is the Websleuths Unidentified forum, and they are now identified.


On the other hand, maybe that gun was fleeing an abusive relationship with its holster, or left its gun cabinet for Gunspringa and never returned :).......

Interesting information about how the informant system can work. Probably not applicable in this case, as you say, but good to know for some other cases.
 

shellbee

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LGH was charged with a federal crime. If he was an informant for a local agency or knew higher ups that were local, would that matter? Like if it was just a state or local felony, he might have gotten off because of who he knew? But since it was a federal offense he couldn’t get out of it? I honestly don’t know. I’m not even sure I believe he could have been an informant or something similar, but obviously things don’t add up.
JMO of course, but I don't buy into the informant theory. I don't believe dedicated police officers would willingly allow a murderer to walk free just to protect an informant.
 

Magnum P.E.

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JMO of course, but I don't buy into the informant theory. I don't believe dedicated police officers would willingly allow a murderer to walk free just to protect an informant.
Best and simplest explanation I could come up with. Irrelevant anyway I guess as he is long dead.
So why WOULD they allow him to walk free? Maybe he was protecting someone else, and they had an idea who but could not make the case. It happens.
All I know is, if I was found with a murder weapon under the seat of my car, I would expect a lot worse than he got. He may well not have known that it was a murder weapon, if he did he probably would have gone out fishing in the ocean and dropped it in 1000 feet of water. Why on earth would you keep something so hot? It was damn near radioactive.
 

worm

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I’m not pro gun, anti gun, whatever. I grew up with and own some but I leave the politics to others but, I’m constantly angered and lost on how anybody can own a weapon and not be responsible when it walks off and does something like this. Buy the gun, own the responsibility.

@shellbee , You make some good points. I’ve took the idea of Lonnie being innocent of this for a walk in the park too, so to speak and it is a real wonder. I’ve thought this could have been somebody like Gaskins that I mentioned before. A hunter, who nabbed these 2 at a store or someplace on the road, wheeled off of 95, killed them and got states away probably before they were moved from the crime scene. But, the gun, the location, just makes it feel local to me.
 

superunknown

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I love everything about this post. I assume that SCS will be sending this weapon off to be tested again?? At least one would hope.

I also find it hard to believe, and highly unlikely that an alcoholic in late middle age, with little or no criminal record, would assassinate two people he didn't know for no discernible reason. I think law enforcement understood this too.

So what happened here? Why did LGH have the murder weapon? Personally, I'm not sure it was the murder weapon.

Ballistic matching isn't a science. It's wholly subjective. The examiner does a side by side visual comparison then offers his or her "expert" opinion. There is no consensus regarding the number of individual characteristics, lands, grooves, etc., required to declare a match. An examiner could consider samples with only one or two similar characteristics or markings a match.

Additionally, there are several other factors that can impact the accuracy of ballistics. Bullets and cartridge cases that are fired from different guns might have similar markings, especially if the guns were manufactured at the same facility, within the same time frame. Passage of time, how a gun is cared for, frequency of use and method of storage can also impact the reliability of ballistic matches.

In 2008 the Detroit Police Department's crime lab was shut down after an audit by the state of Michigan found a 10 percent error rate in ballistics identification.

Finally, keep in mind the ballistics in this case are 40 years old. Photography has improved significantly since that time. In the very least, LE should rerun the tests.
 
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worldwatcher

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MadMcGoo

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I too have wondered if that was even the murder weapon. Maybe that’s why he was only charged with a federal crime and only for tampering with the serial number. Most of us have wondered why he was never charged in relation to the murders. It could be because they couldn’t prove anything within a reasonable degree of certainty. I think the reason he “walked free” is far less complicated than we’re making it out to be; there was reasonable doubt from the get go.
 

worldwatcher

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I too have wondered if that was even the murder weapon. Maybe that’s why he was only charged with a federal crime and only for tampering with the serial number. Most of us have wondered why he was never charged in relation to the murders. It could be because they couldn’t prove anything within a reasonable degree of certainty. I think the reason he “walked free” is far less complicated than we’re making it out to be; there was reasonable doubt from the get go.
I guess so too, it seems to me that Lonnie was a broken man, who turned to the bottle, after his son drowned, I do think that his nephew (from his wife side) also lost his life on that day.
I don't think lonnie was an informer, as well.
 

worm

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worldwatcher

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Maybe around the times, there was a lot of corruption going on, I don't know, but I really doubt it, tbh- in this case, anyway.. (by reading between the lines)
Just wanted to add, with all these post and trying to find out out what happened to them and who did it..
I really think and want to express my appreciation to the Sumter police, Verna and all the (WS) sleuths, who tried everything to ID (from being photographed, finger-printed and x-rayed) them,.
They even had them displayed in a local funeral home in caskets with glass lids at that time,to make sure, every possible way, was done to give them their names, family and loved ones back!
They gave James and Pamela a respectful farewell and burials, without ever knowing their names, but were never forgotten.
❤️
 

Satchie

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Most of us have wondered why he was never charged in relation to the murders. It could be because they couldn’t prove anything within a reasonable degree of certainty. I think the reason he “walked free” is far less complicated than we’re making it out to be; there was reasonable doubt from the get go.
I am wondering whether it would even be possible to charge, much less convict someone, for the murder of unidentified people. I've never heard of trial where they don't know the victim's identity.

How could police claim they'd done any kind of investigation, when they didn't know who the victims were, or where and what they'd been doing before the crime, or develop some kind of theory of events leading up to the crime.

IMO, LE needed to identify and learn about them, before they could even consider charging anyone. Though they could have followed leads that might help them find a stolen vehicle that could be traced back to them, or ID papers.
 

MadMcGoo

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I am wondering whether it would even be possible to charge, much less convict someone, for the murder of unidentified people. I've never heard of trial where they don't know the victim's identity.

How could police claim they'd done any kind of investigation, when they didn't know who the victims were, or where and what they'd been doing before the crime, or develop some kind of theory of events leading up to the crime.

IMO, LE needed to identify and learn about them, before they could even consider charging anyone. Though they could have followed leads that might help them find a stolen vehicle that could be traced back to them, or ID papers.
I’ve definitely seen people convicted of the murder of an unidentified person... Here is one example. He was convicted of the murder of several unidentified women and young girls. So I don’t think not knowing Pam and Jim’s identities was the reason LGH wasn’t charged.
 
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