According to a report in The Greenville News, a Travelers Rest man accused of leaving two people for dead along Interstate 85 on Christmas Eve was the subject of a harassment complaint in August by an Appalachian State University student who viewed his online postings as veiled threat. (Read the entire report here.)
TRAVELERS REST, S.C. – A Travelers Rest man accused of a Christmas Eve shooting along I-85 in Anderson County that left one woman dead and a man in critical condition has been arrested.
According to Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper, 22-year-old John Farrell Villarreal, of Ledge Run Court in Poplar Forest, has been charged with murder, attempted murder, carjacking, and possession of weapons during a violent crime.
The shooting victims were found near mile marker 16 along I-85 in Anderson County around 6:15 on Christmas Eve morning. According to Skipper, the crime was "totally random," happening after they agreed to give Villarreal a ride down the interstate.
The sheriff said Villarreal asked to be driven to the Georgia-South Carolina line, and along the way he asked to stop so he could use the bathroom. When they pulled over, Skipper said and warrants allege that Villarreal pulled out a handgun with a homemade silencer and shot them both in the back of the head, dumping them along the interstate before driving off.
The victims, 44-year-old James Dobson, of Easley, and 43-year-old Mary Fowler, of Greenville, were found by another driver who had stopped and called 911. Fowler died at the hospital, but Dobson survived and is listed in critical condition.
Skipper said Villarreal continued on to Georgia after the shooting, but he returned to Travelers Rest, where he hid the stolen car at a "safe house." Skipper said Villarreal would ride his bike from his house to the car. (The location of the safe house has not been released as the investigation is ongoing.)
Skipper said an Anderson County deputy spotted the stolen vehicle on Tuesday in Belton. Villarreal, who was in the vehicle, was taken into custody. He is currently being held in the Anderson County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing.
Travelers Rest officers and Greenville County deputies assisted in the investigation, Skipper said, adding that they are looking into whether Villarreal may have been involved in any other area crimes.
A search warrant was executed at Villarreal's home on Tuesday evening, but investigators are not releasing information as to what, if anything, was discovered at the residence.
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