South Carolina Man Kills Girlfriend, Dies After Suffering Cardiac Arrest While Burying Her Body

A South Carolina man allegedly strangled his girlfriend to death, only to experience a fatal "cardiac event" while burying the body.

Authorities in Edgefield County identified the deceased suspect as Joseph Anthony McKinnon, 60, and his victim as Patricia Ruth Dent, 65.

Dent's Body Found in a Freshly Dug Pit

Joseph Anthony Mckinnon and Patricia Ruth Dent
Joseph Anthony Mckinnon and Patricia Ruth Dent Twitter

Deputies said they were called at around 10 a.m. on Saturday to a residence on Tanglewoof Drive in the town of Trenton about an unresponsive man in his backyard. When deputies arrived on the scene, they discovered two bodies in the backyard of the home.

One of the bodies, found in what authorities described as a freshly dug pit, belonged to Dent. Investigators also found that foul play was involved. McKinnon's body was found outside the pit. The coroner determined that McKinnon died of cardiac arrest — or what Sheriff Jody Rowland described as a "cardiac event."

McKinnon Suffered Cardiac Arrest While Burying Dent

Citing evidence from the scene as well as witness statements, authorities suggest that McKinnon attacked Dent at the home, then bound her, wrapped her in trash bags, and put her in the pit. But McKinnon is believed to have had the so-called cardiac event while burying Dent. McKinnon managed to partially fill the pit before his death.

"On Saturday morning Deputies along with the Edgefield County Coroner's Office, and Edgefield County EMS responded to 102 Tanglewood Drive in Trenton, South Carolina to a call of an unresponsive man lying in his yard," said Rowland and Edgefield County Coroner David Burnett in a joint statement obtained by WJBF.

"Joseph Anthony McKinnon, 60, of the same address was found to be deceased in his yard. Mr. McKinnon had no signs of trauma and natural causes were suspected. While investigating the death and making notifications to the next of kin, a second body, was located in a freshly dug pit. Patricia Ruth Dent, 65, of the same address appeared to have died by foul play."

Dent was McKinnon's girlfriend, according to WRDW, who interviewed the slain woman's twin sister Pamela Briggs. "I would say a nightmare, and I want to wake up, and it's a dream," Dent's twin sister Pamela Briggs said. "I know it's not. This is reality and life, and a big part of me is gone, and now I'm going to have to live with that."

"Everybody who ever met her liked her," she added. "She was just full of energy. She was 65 and working."