At approximately 11:30 pm on October 6, 2011, 32-year-old Joe Washington was found dead after his vehicle hit a utility pole and caught on fire near 88 Folly Road, St. Helena Island.
Autopsy revealed Washington died as result of a gunshot wound, not the motor vehicle accident or fire.
Based on evidence found at the scene, it appears Washington was shot in his vehicle, lost control and struck the utility pole. The fire was believed to have been caused by brush under Washington’s vehicle.
During the crime scene examination, a handgun was found inside Washington’s vehicle. The handgun was sent to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to be compared to the projectiles and casings recovered from Julius Chaplin’s murder, which occurred the night before Washington’s shooting death.
The forensic examiner concluded that the recovered handgun was one of the two handguns used in Chaplin’s murder, making retaliation the likely motive for Washington’s shooting retaliation.
No subjects have been charged in Washington’s shooting death.