Faile: Pate ‘in jail where he belongs’

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Arrest made in murder of 33-year-old Rickey James

By Chris Sardelli


An investigation into the death of a Wallace man whose body was found in the woods Saturday, Nov. 16, led authorities to charge a Lancaster man already behind bars with murder.

David Adam Pate, 24, 1050 Mullis Circle, was charged with murder Friday morning, Nov. 22, in connection with the death of Rickey W. James, 33, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Pate had been arrested Nov. 11 for disorderly conduct and was already jailed at the Lancaster County Detention Center when deputies served him with the murder warrant, the release said.

James’ body was found Nov. 16 by children playing in woods near their home. Deputies responded to a densely wooded area near Mullis Circle and Wade Street and discovered the badly decomposed body. The area is just off Memorial Park Road and about one mile from Springs Memorial Hospital.

The location of the body was also only feet away from a mobile home where members of his family lived, and very close to Pate’s last known address.

“When we found the body, investigators and patrol deputies went door to door talking to people in that community and that’s when we talked with someone whose brother had been missing for quite awhile,” said Sheriff Barry Faile on Friday afternoon. “That’s when we started investigating it and linked the missing person with the body found.”

Investigators determined that sometime around Oct. 17 Pate and James went into the woods behind Mullis Circle, where Pate allegedly killed James and hid his body under a pile of brush, the press release said.

“From my understanding, the two left together that night when we think the murder took place. James never came back and Pate was the only one who came back home,” Faile said. “We got enough evidence through our investigation that could tie the two men together when it happened.”

The exact evidence in the case had not been revealed Friday. 

Faile said investigators had yet to determine a motive in the case and did not know of any previous conflicts between the two men. 

There are no additional charges expected in the case, Faile said. 

The discovery of James’ body came about a month after members of his family sought help from the Lancaster Police Department to find the missing man. The family lives just outside the city limits, though Rickey James had at one point lived in Wallace, which is near Cheraw in Marlboro County and about 60 miles east of Lancaster.

Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant said family members came to the police department on Oct. 20 to speak with an officer and file a missing person’s report.

Though James was not entered into NCIC (National Crime Information Center) as a missing person, Grant said officers followed up with the family later that week.

As of Friday afternoon, Pate remained jailed at the detention center awaiting a bond hearing.

“A circuit judge will set that bond, but I’m not sure when we’ll have one back in Lancaster,” Faile said. 

In the release, Faile offered his condolences to James’ family and thanked investigators for making the arrest.

“We are thankful that we were able to solve this case so quickly. Our investigators did a great job putting this case together,” Faile said. “We suspected Pate almost immediately but had to wait on lab results to prove it. We are thankful he is in jail where he belongs.”

Long list of charges

Pate is no stranger to authorities in Lancaster County.

According to the S.C. Judicial Department online case database, Pate is listed as a defendant in 23 cases dating back to 2008,  one of which is still pending  in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which includes Lancaster County.

Six of those cases are for disorderly conduct charges, per court records.

In February 2008, he was found guilty of the charge in a bench trial and received a $200 fine. 

In October 2010, July 2011, August 2011 and Sept. 2012 he pleaded guilty to those charges and in each case was sentenced to 30 days in jail. 

He has a pending charge from a Nov. 10 arrest.

Per the S.C. Judicial Department database, other charges and sentences include: 

– Second-degree burglary, from Oct. 2008; pleaded guilty and received suspended sentence of one year with two years of probation 

– Malicious injury to property, $1,000 or less, from Aug. 2009; pleaded guilty and sentenced to six months in prison concurrent with a probation violation 

– Use of vehicle without permission and failure to stop for blue light, both from June 2010; pleaded guilty to both charges and sentenced to six months in prison concurrent with a probation violation 

– Two counts of contraband, from Jan. 2011; pleaded guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail 

– Felony property offense and third-degree burglary, both from Jan. 2011; pleaded guilty to both charges and received a five-year suspended sentence followed by five years of probation 

– First-degree assault and battery, from Oct. 2011; pleaded guilty and received a five-year suspended sentence upon service of one year in jail and three years of probation 

– Third-degree assault and battery, from May 2012; pleaded guilty, received credit for time served 

– Third-degree assault and battery, from July 2012; pleaded guilty, received credit for time served 

– Contraband, from July 2012; pleaded guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail 

– Shoplifting, third offense, from Sept. 2012; pleaded guilty and sentenced to one year with credit for time served