Editorial: families had to wait years for arrests
The family of Jim Bolt had to wait almost a dozen years for an arrest to be made in his murder. That had to have seemed an eternity for them as they saw people walking down the street or in the grocery store and wondered to themselves: do they know who killed Jim? Bolt was murdered Sept. 26, 2003 at the VFW in Laurens while he worked in the canteen. The case went cold, although Laurens law enforcement refused to officially classify it a cold case. Crime Stoppers of Laurens County offered a reward that grew to $5,500. Finally, last summer, police arrested a Laurens woman and charged her with being an accessory after the fact of murder. Two days later, deputies in Georgetown County arrested a man and charged him with killing Bolt. But the 12 years the Bolt family waited for an arrest must seem like quick justice to the family of Elaine Fogle, who was killed May 28, 1978 in Walterboro. Fogle, a nurse, was raped and murdered. A 59-year-old man already in jail was charged Dec. 2 with killing Fogle. Fogle’s niece Melissa Howard Hughes lives in Clinton. She and other family members waited 37 years for an arrest to be made. Hughes said her mother has lived in fear, looking over her shoulder at every person whose eyes might have lingered on her a bit too long. “What is that’s him and now, he’s after me?” Hughes said her mother – Elaine Fogle’s sister -- has said. “For years, I have not seen my mother smile. She has never wanted to put up a Christmas tree, it’s always been just a small, ceramic tree.” This year, the family put up a real Christmas tree. Members of the Fogle family have dogged the case since Elaine Fogle was killed. They have been relentless, police in Walterboro admit. “They (the family members) were her biggest advocate over the years and their knowledge of the case was better than any case file we had,” Walterboro Police Chief Wade Marvin told a reporter at The Press and Standard in Walterboro. A cold case investigator and a retired SLED agent who originally worked the case -- and who wrote about Fogle’s murder in a book the agent wrote – finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together. The man who was arrested had been a suspect from almost the beginning, but couldn’t be linked to the crime scene until the fresh eyes took a closer look. In most instances of a violent crime, an arrest is made quickly because the perpetrator is an acquaintance or relative of the victim. There’s a cable TV show named The First 48 Hours, which documents that after the first two days of an investigation, memories fade, clues disappear and cases are less likely to be solved. But real life is not a television show. For some victims and their families, the process takes years. Decades. The families of Jim Bolt and Elaine Fogle did not let police forget them. And, in both cases, the police were determined to find the people who killed the elderly man and the young nurse 25 years apart. So far, the people arrested in the unrelated cases haven’t been tried and are covered with the presumption of innocence. But, even so, the families can derive some peace from the fact that police are confident they have found the killers. The arrests are small consolations for the loss of loved ones, but they are important to the families and to us as a society.