Sheriff discusses details of Monday’s double murder

Flanked by 13th Circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins, Pickens County sheriff Rick Clark discusses the details of a double killing that claimed the lives of a former Pickens High School football coach and his neighbor on Monday in Pickens during a news conference Thursday morning at the Pickens County Law Enforcement Center.

PICKENS — In a called news conference held Thursday at the Pickens County Law Enforcement Center, sheriff Rick Clark and 13th Circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins addressed the circumstances and timeline that led to the killings of legendary Pickens High School football coach Bill Isaacs and his neighbor, Dickie Stewart, on Monday.

[cointent_lockedcontent]Albert Leon Bowen, 64, of 412 Gilliland Road, was charged in the case, according to arrest warrants. Bowen is charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Bowen lived across the street from Isaacs.

Clark urged the community to stop spreading false rumors of the events of the case for the sake of the families of the victims, as well as the harm they may cause to the investigation.

“In cases like this, our condolences go out the families,” Clark said. “I grew up on Main Street in Pickens. My family owned Clark Furniture in the 1970s and 80s, when Pickens football was king.

“Mr. Isaacs was a builder of men and a builder of community pride. We met with both families yesterday and shared hugs and consoled each other. They are just two great families. The way they are holding up is an inspiration to us. Dickie Stewart is well loved and was a God-fearing man that I know Secona Baptist Church is going to miss. Stewart is a surname for guardian. You will see that Dickie was a guardian.”

Clark said sheriff’s office officials’ overriding concern is the integrity of the case to be presented to Wilkins’ office.

“There have been so many wild rumors and wrong speculation about what was going in this neighborhood,” Clark said. “We talked to the families yesterday. It was their intent that I reiterate that there was no out-of-control situation. It was a community problem that we were working on.”

Clark said “probably half” of the things being said about the case are false.

“The families are upset about the things that are being said and want us to strongly let everyone know was really going on,” he said.

Clark said deputies had no direct evidence of any type of feud that was going on.

“There were no threats being exchanged,” Clark said.

Clark added the sheriff’s office was contacted about property damage from gunshots on Isaacs’ property that was believed to be coming from Bowen’s property.

Clark said a PCSO detective was at Isaacs’ home the morning of the crime working the property damage case.

“People that are speculating about the event that went on there, stop,” the sheriff said. “You have no clue what was going on or what has been or what is going on. You are affecting the families there and them trying to move forward, and also our operations here at the sheriff’s office. Stop creating speculation of motives. We have a serious case to work.

“Unfounded rumors are only making things worse.”

Clark said deputies are working to provide justice for the families of the victims.

Clark told the media his office only had two documented reports of damage at Isaacs’ home prior to last weekend — one in September 2014 and another in December 2014. The third incident was filed last Sunday, Sept. 13, according to Clark.

“We had our detective out there working on Monday morning as soon as he got in,” Clark said.

Clark added there had been reports of gunshots and firecracker noises in the area, but said nothing could be tied back to a certain person in the neighborhood. Clark said his department had added many extra patrols in the area.

“The damage that we did discover was consistent with a high-powered pellet gun,” Clark said.

Clark said at 9:13 a.m. a PCSO detective was at Isaacs’ home working on the case. He said the detective and Isaacs discussed the case to see what further could be done in the case of damaged property. He said the detective left to get equipment, and during that time Isaacs went to take his regular morning walk.

According to an incident report, Isaacs reported Monday morning that someone had fired a gun in the direction of his home overnight, causing damage to the windshield of a Model A replica vehicle he had parked in his driveway.

Clark said the first 911 call was taken from a passerby seeing a person laying on the side of the road at about 9:50 a.m. on North Homestead Road just past the intersection with Sangamo Road.

Clark said just a minute later, Stewart placed a 911 call reporting Isaacs lying on the ground. During the call, Stewart can be heard checking on Isaacs before a gunshot is heard and Stewart says he has been shot and asks for ambulance. The call then goes silent.

“At this time, our detective is already back on his way and arrives back on the scene at 9:57 a.m.,” Clark said.

At 9:58 a.m., Bowen was taken into custody for investigative detention, Clark said.

“That is our timeline of what has happened,” Clark said. “Again, our prayers go out to the families. We have bonded with them and asked the community to support them.”

Wilkins then addressed the media and spoke of how the case would progress. Wilkins said his office has received the charges against Bowen, who waived a bond hearing on Tuesday.

Wilkins said the investigation will continue and he and his office will continue to receive all the information the investigation provides and proceed with normal prosecution channels.

“These are allegations of double murder and are very serious,” he said. “We will begin the discovery process and provide all this information to Mr. Bowen’s attorney, and the prosecution will begin.”

Wilkins said the case does qualify for the death penalty under South Carolina statutes.

“That is something this office takes extremely seriously,” Wilkins said. “That analysis and decision is ongoing and will be discussed with my office and the sheriff’s office and obviously with the families of the victims in this case.”

Wilkins said it was too early to determine if his office will file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Bowen.

Clarks said his department is emotionally involved in the case.

“We are going to seek justice the best we can,” he said. [/cointent_lockedcontent]