Arrest made in 1978 homicide in Walterboro

PRESS RELEASE – On May 28th, 1978 at approximately 1:47 a.m., officers from the Walterboro Police Department were approached at headquarters by two individuals who stated they came home to find their roommate covered in blood lying on the floor. Officers responded to 210 South Lemacks Street where they discovered the body of Gwendolyn Elaine Fogle. The crime scene was extensively processed and agents from SLED were called to assist detectives from the Walterboro Police Department during the duration of the investigation.

During the initial investigation, evidence was collected, processed, and preserved. Officers interviewed numerous persons of interest, including family and acquaintances of the victim. Although numerous leads were followed and countless hours were spent working on the homicide, investigators were unable to positively identify a suspect.

Over the past 37 years, officers from the Walterboro Police Department and agents from SLED have followed leads, reviewed evidence and reached out to numerous agencies for assistance to no avail.

In May of 2015, almost 37 years to the day, the case was assigned to Investigator Gean Johnson. Johnson began looking into the original case file and years of follow-ups concerning the homicide and criminal activity around the time of the homicide. Over the past 7 months, investigator Johnson reviewed persons of interest, interviews, and resubmitted original evidence from the crime scene to SLED for analysis. Over the course of the investigation, an original person of interest, James Willie Butterfield, became the primary suspect. Numerous interviews and extensive hours of investigative tactics were conducted to exclude other persons of interest; however it was through evidence collected from the original crime scene that Investigator Johnson was able to determine James Butterfield as the suspect.

On December 1st, 2015, James Willie Butterfield was charged with Murder, Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree, and Burglary 1st Degree. Butterfield is in custody and is awaiting a bond hearing. Butterfield is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

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