Trenton, SC – A South Carolina man died of a heart attack while trying to bury a murdered woman’s body in his backyard on Saturday, according to investigators.
The Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) responded to 102 Tanglewood Drive after receiving a report of an “unresponsive male lying in his yard” shortly before 10 a.m. on May 7, according to The Island Packet.
The citizen who discovered the man said he performed chest compressions before calling 911, WRDW reported.
The unresponsive male was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies identified him as 60-year-old Joseph Anthony McKinnon, and said he lived at the home with his girlfriend, 65-year-old Patricia Ruth Dent, according to WRDW.
Investigators noted McKinnon had no signs of trauma and that he appeared to have died of natural causes, The Augusta Press reported.
But while they were notifying McKinnon’s next-of-kin, deputies stumbled upon a partially-buried second body located “in a freshly dug pit” nearby, according to The Island Packet.
Edgefield County Sheriff Jody Rowland confirmed that the second body was that of Dent.
Investigators said they believe McKinnon attacked Dent in the home they shared, according to The Island Packet.
Autopsies later revealed Dent died by strangulation and that McKinnon died of a heart attack, WJBF reported.
Sheriff Rowland said it is believed McKinnon murdered Dent, then “bound her and wrapped her in trash bags before putting her in the previously dug pit,” The Island Packet reported.
The alleged killer was in the process of burying Dent when he suffered a fatal “cardiac event,” according to the sheriff.
Deputies said McKinnon tossed the shovel aside and attempted to walk away from the grave, but that he collapsed and died in the yard, WRDW reported.
The motive for Dent’s murder has not been released.