KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) – After a nearly 12 hour search in Marion County, authorities apprehended a man deputies say kidnapped a Columbia woman, raped her and then dropped her off on the side of the road Thursday.
Just after midnight on Thursday, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office investigators received information from Kershaw Health hospital officials in Camden that Lee Co.
EMS had transported a woman to their hospital who reported being kidnapped from Columbia and driven into Kershaw Co. where she was sexually assaulted.
The suspect, 25-year-old Franklin Graham was eventually arrested after an extensive search later that day in Marion County.
According to Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews, KCSO investigators interviewed the victim at the hospital. She said that she lived in Columbia and was going to meet a friend at an apartment complex and when she arrived at the complex she was approached by a man, later identified as Franklin Graham, 25, who also lived there. The victim said that Graham held a gun to her head, got in the back seat of her car and forced her to drive away, according to investigators.
She said she drove on Interstate 20 through Richland County into Kershaw Co where Graham told her to pull off at exit 101 on I-20. He then made her drive to a secluded area near the interstate where he sexually assaulted her, investigators said.
Graham then forced the victim to drive on I-20 into Lee County where he made her get out of the car at Exit 120, the sheriff said. The victim then walked to a nearby gas station and called 911. According to investigators, Graham then took her car and drove to Marion County.
According to deputies, Graham ran out of fuel in Mullins, SC and began knocking on doors at 3:30 a.m. A homeowner called the Mullins PD and responding officers went to the area and located Graham. They identified him, but released him just minutes prior to the statewide alert about the abduction and assault.
Mullins PD officers then tried to relocate Graham but were unsuccessful. Kershaw Co. deputies proceeded to Marion County where they assisted the Marion Co. Sheriff’s Office and the Mullins Police Department in their search for Graham.
Around 3:30 p.m., with additional assistance from SLED’s helicopter and bloodhounds, Graham was apprehended without further incident. He was transported to the Kershaw County Detention Center where he remains incarcerated.
The Kershaw Co. Sheriff’s Office has charged Graham with kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct 1st degree. Due to the serious nature of the charges, Grahams’ bond will be set by a circuit court judge during the week of October 17th in Kershaw County.
Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews credited the combined efforts of his officers, SLED, the Marion Co. Sheriff’s Office and the Mullins Police Department with the relatively quick apprehension of Graham.
The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office is working with SLED forensics experts in gathering evidence from the victim’s vehicle which was recovered. The Columbia Police department will also be charging Graham separately for offenses that occurred within their jurisdiction.