[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/26/art.crime.sc.staton.jpg caption="Homer and JoAnn Staton were reported missing last week."]
The body of an elderly South Carolina man, who was reported missing along with his wife last week, was found in a wooded area near Belton, S.C., authorities said.
Homer L. Staton, 72, of Taylors, South Carolina, died of blunt force trauma to the head, the Anderson County Medical Examiner announced today. Police have classified the case as a homicide investigation. They also continue to search for the victim’s 69-year-old wife, Jo Ann M. Staton. The couple was last seen Friday afternoon in Greenville County.
On Saturday, their 2007 Black Toyota Camry was located in Anderson County. Investigators said there were bloodstains on the interior of the car. Mrs. Staton’s purse was also inside the vehicle.
Mr. Staton’s body was found Sunday, a few miles away from the car in the tree line off a country road, said Lt. Garland Major, Unit Commander for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. “We don’t know really where the homicide took place,” Lt. Major told CNN. He also said searches of the area, including the use of cadaver dogs, did not yield any new information or evidence.
Investigators are not ruling out any motive at this point. “I don’t want to tie myself down,” Lt. Major said. “We are looking at all possibilities, car jacking, robbery, maybe somebody didn’t like him.”
A missing persons investigation remains in effect for Mrs. Staton, but Lt. Major fears she may have also been the victim of a violent crime.
“We are hoping that she is not, but with the fact of the blood in the car and that we found him dead, that is a distinct possibility that she is deceased, but we are hoping that she is not.”
Anyone with information is being urged to contact the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office at 864-260-4440.
For more crime coverage go to cnn.com/crime.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with