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Grandson facing murder, arson charges in South Carolina fire

SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WKYT) - Sumter County deputies have charged a man with killing his grandparents and setting their home on fire.

20-year-old Joseph Manners is facing two counts of murder and one count of arson.

WLTX-TV reports that Firefighters responded to a Barnwell Drive home that was on fire Saturday. According to Sheriff Anthony Dennis, crews found the bodies of James and Janice Toppler inside after they put out the fire.

"I just could not believe that this house could burn like that," said Leigh Harmon, the victim's sister. "I could not believe that anybody would do this to grandparents who have always been so good to him."

A witness told officers they had seen a white Honda leaving the home just after the fire began. Deputies then put out an alert to local and national law enforcement to be on the lookout for the car.

Police in Kentucky spotted the vehicle on Sunday, and when they attempted to pull the car over, Manners led them on a chase on I-75 into Cincinnati. He eventually drove into the Ohio River in an effort to flee from authorities. Manners was arrested near River Road and transported to an area hospital.

Dennis says that his investigators have learned that Manners had come from Kentucky to live with his grandparents a few weeks ago. In the time he was there, his officers had been called to the home for a report that Manners had attacked his grandmother. No charges were filed in that case.

Dennis said the family had recently decided to send Manners back to Kentucky.

Investigators say they are working to bring Manners back to South Carolina as quickly as possible so that he may be prosecuted.


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