Former sheriff arrested in Rock Hill

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Cauthen charged with damaging neighbors’ home, car with pellets, paintballs and marbles

By Denyse Clark

ROCK HILL – Former Lancaster County Sheriff Johnny Cauthen turned himself in to Rock Hill police Thursday, July 10 after being charged with vandalism of two neighbors' property with slingshot pellets, marbles and paintballs. 

He was released later that day on a personal recognizance bond in Rock Hill Municipal Court.

According to the report, the first incident happened about 7:30 p.m. June 6, when Cauthen is alleged to have damaged the front door of a Hyacinthia Lane home.

“(The victim) said she kept hearing some popping noises to the front of her house,” the report said. “(The victim) stated she looked out her window and saw her neighbor, Cauthen, on the back corner of his house facing her home. She opened the front door and found the glass had been busted out.”

The victim told officers she yelled at Cauthen who was still at the back corner of his home, but disappeared around the back when she yelled, the report said. 

A witness told police she was walking her dog when she also observed Cauthen at the back corner of his house and felt he was “acting strange.”

“The witness watched Cauthen quickly go behind the house when she heard the victim yell across the street at him,” the report said.

Officers found several slingshot pellets, marbles and paintballs in the victim’s yard, according to the report. They also found slingshot pellets in Cauthen’s front yard but the report said he told officers he didn’t own a slingshot or paintball gun.

Cauthen was charged with malicious damage to property over $2,000 for damaging the home. According to a warrant, damage to the home was estimated at $3,997.

Cauthen was also charged with damage to personal property $2,000 or less involving another Hyacinthia Lane neighbor that was reported about an hour later (9:30 p.m.) that same day.  

RHPD officers met with a second victim who reported someone had damaged the windshield of her Kia Sorento the previous day.

“(The victim) told officers when she got to work on the morning of June 5, she noticed there was a small dent in her windshield like someone shot her car with a pellet gun but she didn’t think anything of it,” the report said. “She said she came home and found several slingshot pellets, marbles and paintball pellets on the side of her home.”

The officer checked the side of the woman’s home for damage, but was unable to find any, the report said. 

The officer asked the victim if her car had been parked facing the road or the house. She said it was facing the house. The officer noticed a small dent in the windshield but didn’t find any damage to the car. According to a separate warrant, estimated damage to the car is $270. 

The following day, June 7, the same officer went back to the second victim’s house and observed several cracks in the vinyl of her home caused by someone shooting slingshot pellets, marbles and paintballs, the report said.

Cauthen, 58, served more than 31 years in law enforcement, including three terms as Lancaster County sheriff (1997-2009). He retired in 2009, citing medical reasons. 


Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152