Camden Man Sentenced to 2 Consecutive Life Sentences for Double Homicide, Arson

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September 25, 2023

Kershaw—Thomas Dwayne Knotts (46) was sentenced Monday morning for the brutal slayings of Steven and Nancy Hales in January of 2021.  Knotts was scheduled to be tried by a Kershaw County jury the week of September 25, 2023 but instead opted to plead guilty to charges stemming from the January 9, 2021 incident that occurred at 1615 Lyttleton Street.  The Honorable Donald B. Hocker listened as the allegations were read into the record.

During the early morning hours of January 10, 2021, neighbors called in to report a fire at the home at 1615 Lyttleton Street.  As firefighters from the Camden Fire Department battled the rising flames, one of the first responders reported finding a large pool of blood in the driveway.  Neighborhood friends also reported that a white Toyota Tacoma was missing from the Hales’ residence.  Once firefighters made entry, they located the bodies of Nancy Hales and Steven Hales.  Both of their throats had been slashed.  Law enforcement soon began receiving tips that Thomas Knotts should be considered a suspect due to the fact that he had done odd jobs for the Hales in the past and frequently borrowed money from the couple.  Tag readers set up throughout the county caught the missing white Toyota Tacoma in various areas throughout the early morning hours of January 10, 2021.  Video from First Community Bank and Safe Federal Credit Union ATMs caught Thomas Knotts using financial transaction cards belonging to the Hales to withdraw funds from their accounts.  Witnesses also reported that Knotts had been seen with several pieces of women’s jewelry.

When Knotts was arrested at his mother’s home he had jewelry in his pocket that belonged to the Hales and had stashed a larger collection of the Hales’ jewelry in a shed.  Evidence showed that after killing the Hales and stealing their belongings, Knotts poured gasoline throughout the home and set it on fire.  Calling Mr. Knotts actions, “evil personified”, Judge Donald B. Hocker sentenced Thomas Knotts to two consecutive life sentences for two counts of murder, two counts of desecration of human remains, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, arson in the second degree and grand larceny.  The case was investigated by the Camden Police Department and prosecuted by First Assistant Solicitor Dale Scott and Assistant Solicitors Clay Carruth and Walt Whitmire of the Fifth Circuit Solicitors Office.

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