Two people are charged with the death of a Laurens County 2-year-old boy, officials said Saturday.
William Ryan Looper and Jessica Blake Smith were arrested in connection. Looper is charged with murder, criminal sexual conduct with a minor, 1st Degree and 2 counts of unlawful conduct towards a minor. Smith is charged with two counts of unlawful conduct towards a minor and homicide by child abuse.
Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds says this is not Looper’s first run-in with the law. He’s been behind bars before for burglary, larceny, breaking and entering and fraud.
Smith is the mother of the child and Looper is her current boyfriend, according to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.
Early Saturday morning, deputies responded to a call about an unresponsive child at a home on the 100 block of Country Lane in Clinton, South Carolina.
At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Reynolds called the case one of the most horrendous his deputies have ever encountered.
“As my lead investigator has already stated, it’s the worst he’s ever seen,” Sheriff Reynolds said.
Laurens County investigators and the Solicitor’s Office are piecing together their case against Smith and Looper for the murder of Smith’s 2-year-old son.
“We are on a path to ensure that things are followed and done in a matter that this child will get his justice,” said Sheriff Reynolds.
Reynolds revealed during the course of the investigation it was determined the child was sexually molested and brutally beaten before his death.
“These animals, who are possessed with pure evil, have no place in our society. There is no rehabilitation for people this evil,” Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds said a statement to WSPA. “I’m sure God has a place for these broken individuals, as he does for these precious children.”
“I think Sheriff Reynolds summed it up in the comment he made this morning, about it being just pure evil,” said Tommy Kitchens, who lives on Country Lane.
Sheriff Reynolds said he’s hoping to lock Smith and Looper up for a long time.
“In cases like this, what possible jail time could these two people be facing?” Asked WSPA Reporter Stefany Bornman.
“Ma’am, I hope forever. How about that?” Reynolds answered.
Neighbors said the toddler lived at the home on County Lane with Smith, Looper and two other young children, ages 6 and 7.
“They were just average children. They enjoyed being outside playing,” Kitchens told WSPA.
Kitchens says the family had just recently moved into the home, next door to his.
He says on Friday the kids were outside hanging out with the dog, nothing out of the ordinary. Kitchens said that’s why the toddler’s death is completely unexpected.
“You don’t think that something like that is going to happen next door to you and then you wonder if there was something that you could have said or done, that could have kept it from happening.” Kitchens said.
Due to the nature of the case, the Sheriff’s Office is putting together counseling and other resources for all the investigators involved on Monday.
“Unfortunately I have had to work many homicide cases over the years, some of which involved children, however, this is by far the worst thing I’ve ever seen. This incident brought tears to the eyes of our investigators and what these individuals did to this child is unimaginable!” Captain Robert Wilkie said in a press release.
The case is being actively investigated.