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Sheriff: Man tells 911 after killing he needs to smoke crack

December 3, 2018

INMAN, S.C. (AP) — A man who called 911 to say he killed a woman in a South Carolina home told the operator he would turn himself in after he smoked crack, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said.

But William Tommie Smith never got a chance to use the drugs because his brother called deputies immediately after hearing about the killing and led officers to Smith, Wright said.

“He said he would turn himself in after he smoked crack. I don’t understand that addiction, but obviously it makes you do things you aren’t supposed to,” Wright told reporters outside the Inman home where the killing happened Sunday morning.

Several hours after the killing, the home caught fire and was destroyed. Firefighters said the blaze was suspicious.

Smith told the 911 operator Sunday morning he beat the woman with the bat and tied a power cord around her neck and then told investigators the same story, according to a police report.

The coroner’s office identified the woman as 55-year-old Brenda Kay Tanner. Investigators didn’t have a motive for the killing.

Tanner’s son stabbed a man with a pair of scissors after a fight at the home two weeks ago and was charged with attempted murder, according to deputies, who don’t think the two acts of violence were related.

Smith, 63, is charged with murder in Sunday’s death and remains in jail. Records did not indicate if he had a lawyer.

The sheriff’s church is near the Inman home where the killing happened and Wright knew both the suspect and the victim.

“This young man was breaking bread with us about two weeks ago in our church,” Wright said. “We prayed for him, and this lady, obviously.”

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