Family of slain man grows impatient as anniversary of death nears

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Family of slain man grows impatient as anniversary of death nears

Sheriff's Office: Building murder case takes time

By ALLISON STICE
astice@islandpacket.com
843-706-8138
Published Saturday, May 21, 2011   |  550 Words  |  

Monday will mark a year since the body of 52-year-old Hilton Head Island resident Leonard Green was found at the Pinckney Island boat landing, and his family is losing faith in the investigation into his murder.

"We're still in the dark," his sister, Joyce Young, said last week.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office named a Hilton Head Island man a "person of interest" within days of the May 23, 2010, discovery of Green's body, but no one has been charged in the shooting death.

Investigators have named no other suspects or detailed what they believe happened to Green after he left the Hilton Head home of his mother, Florence, the night before. Green had moved in to care for her after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Green died of two gunshot wounds, according to an autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina. Evidence is still being processed by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and the Sheriff's Office forensics lab, sheriff's Capt. Bob Bromage said.

"We're in a position where we're trying to make the best case possible by employing all forensic techniques," Bromage said. "That is time intensive."

The man investigators questioned about the homicide, 28-year-old Jerry Lamont Scantling, is in the county jail on unrelated charges of first-degree burglary in connection with a Burton home invasion. Beaufort police officers arrested Scantling during a traffic stop May 26, 2010. He also was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, fleeing to evade arrest and driving without a license.

Authorities said the vehicle Scantling was driving was reported stolen in Savannah. Green's Ford F-150 pickup, missing since the night before Green's body was found, was located in Savannah last June by Savannah-Chatham Metro Police.

Another person, who was questioned by authorities, was found driving Green's truck, Bromage said. He wouldn't release that person's name.

Green's nephew, Louis Gadson, said he gave investigators an important lead when residents of Hilton Head Gardens apartments told him they saw Scantling driving his uncle's truck the night Green left home and never came back.

Gadson said he rushed to call detectives, who retrieved from a trash bin his uncle's clothes, briefcase and the new uniform from Pizza Hut where Green had gotten a job just days earlier.

"I wanted to find out what happened to my uncle myself," Gadson said. "If I didn't jump on it right then and there, they (detectives) never would have known."

Gadson also said investigators showed him a photograph of a man with the face blocked out wearing his uncle's clothing and told him the picture was of Scantling from the night he was arrested.

Bromage wouldn't confirm Gadson's account, saying it would compromise the investigation.

"There's direction in this case, direction and focus," Bromage said.

Meanwhile, coping with Green's death has been difficult for the family as the one-year anniversary approaches, his niece, Connie Gadson, said.

"He didn't have any kids, but he raised us," she said. "Our friends, our cousins -- everyone called him Uncle Lee.

"My uncle was a family man, a provider, like a father ... and we lost all of that."