First-time concealed weapons permits spike

BEAUFORT (AP) — State officials said the number of first-time applicants for a concealed-weapons permit in South Carolina nearly tripled in 2012.

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division told The Beaufort Gazette that 61,766 residents sought for the first time to be able to keep a gun hidden on their person last year. In 2011, the state recorded 24,661 first-time concealed weapons permit applications.

Lack of records check places boy with felon

ROCK HILL (AP) — York County Department of Social Services officials placed an 8-year-old boy in the care of his uncle without doing a comprehensive background check that likely would have shown he was a convicted felon.

The boy’s uncle was charged five months later with abusing the child, The Herald of Rock Hill reported.

DSS workers agreed on a safety plan in May to place the boy in his uncle’s care after someone noticed bruises on his arms and back. The boy told authorities that his father had beaten him. The newspaper didn’t name the dad or uncle because it did not want to identify the boy.

A DSS worker should always do criminal background checks using local, state and federal records when placing a child, but the worker in the boy’s case only checked local records, missing a 1995 charge of assault and battery with intent to kill conviction against the uncle, authorities said. The uncle was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

In October, the uncle was charged with abusing the boy after marks were found on the child’s head.

DSS policy prevents children from being place in a home where someone has a criminal record unless the charge has been expunged or the crime has absolutely no bearing on how someone would take care of a child, DSS spokeswoman Marilyn Matheus said.

The state began investigating DSS and its role with the boy after the newspaper started asking questions.

The boy is back in the custody of his parents after they agreed to take certain steps to protect the child’s safety, Matheus said.

Murder-suicide kills couple in Seneca

SENECA (AP) — Authorities said a Seneca man shot his girlfriend in the chest and neck before turning the gun on himself outside their Seneca home.

Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said an autopsy confirmed the 1 a.m. Saturday shooting happened the way deputies suspected.

Addis said 58-year-old Gwendolyn Hiott bled to death after being shot and 50-year-old husband James Wesley Foxx died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators said a handgun was found near Foxx’s body.

Someone passing by the home called 911 after seeing two bodies in the yard after sunrise Saturday.

Teen dies; hit by tree while making trail

SPARTANBURG (AP) — Authorities said a 17-year-old boy has died after he was hit by a tree as he cleared a path for a four-wheeler.

The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office said Daniel Prokhor was hit by the tree around 2:30 p.m. Saturday and died at the hospital from head injuries about an hour later.

Investigators said Prokhor was part of a group cutting down trees for a trail in the northern part of the county near Campobello.

2nd man charged in Nov. slaying of Clinton woman

LAURENS (AP) — Investigators have charged a second man in the killing of a Clinton woman in November.

Lauren County deputies charged 42-year-old Marion Napier of Abbeville with murder.

Authorities said 60-year-old Debra Malone was found dead in a camper near Clinton on Nov. 8. Investigators said she was beaten with a bat and stabbed a dozen times in what looked like a planned attack.

Deputies arrested 62-year-old Jimmy Harrison and charged him with murder several days later. Investigators haven’t said what links either man to the killing.

It wasn’t clear if either suspect had a lawyer.

Amber lights help shoo away geese on Lake Murray

COLUMBIA (AP) — People on Lake Murray tired of geese now have a new weapon to chase the waterfowl away.

The State reported that solar-powered amber lights that flash unpredictably at night annoy the geese enough that they fly away.

Lake Murray Marina and Yacht Club Manager Tammy Wright said she no longer has to clean geese droppings from the fuel dock since putting in one of the $250 lights.

While the lights bother the nocturnal nesting habits of geese, they are designed not to bother people. Amber was chosen because it is effective and isn’t used for other purposes on the lake.

State officials estimate up to 1,000 geese live on Lake Murray, with the number rising sharply during migration season in the spring and fall.