In South Carolina, Michael Torrence was executed for killing Dennis Lollis and Charles Bush in Midlands in a robbery in 1987, and for killing Cynthia Williams, a Charleston prostitute who he said was his girlfriend, a month later. He stabbed Mr. Lollis as many as 19 times and choked Mr. Bush with a dog chain.
A Federal appeals court denied an appeal on Thursday by a court-appointed lawyer, Jay Elliott, who said Mr. Torrence was borderline retarded.
Headless Man in Topless Bar
By T.A. Kevlin
Donna Webb Torrence was a 19-years-old stripper at the club just outside of the city of Columbia, SC. While stripping she meet two customers at the club, Charles Bush, 31, and Dennis Lollis, 41, both of whom were mill engineers staying in the Columbia area on business.
Bush and Lollis visited the strip club a number of times and struck up a relationship, the nature of wich was unspecified in the press, with Torrence, who knew the location of the motel at wich the two men were staying.
Together, Torrence, her husband Thomas and her brother-in-law, Michael Torrence, concocted a scheme to rob Bush and Lollis.
On February 11, 1987, Donna was at the motel room. wich was in Lexington County, across the river from Columbia, when she said she needed a ride home. Bush drove her home and was invited inside, where the two brothers attacked him from ambush, beat him with a blunt object and choked him to death with a dog collar.
Taken the key from Bush's body, the men went to the motel were Lolluis was asleep; Michael Torrence sttabed Lollis 19 times. The motive for the double murder was robbery. Bush body was buried near the Torrence home and Lollis' was left in the bloody motel room to be discovered the next day.
In Charleston County, on March 28, Michael Torrance killed a 20-years-old prostitute named Cynthia Williams, with whom he had become involved, by shooting her in the chest with a shotgun after some sort of an argument. He dumped the body beside an expressway, were it was discovered when two motorist stopped to change drivers.
The Torrence Brothers were arrested in connection to the Williams murder on April 6; during the interrogation, the brothers disclosed their involvement in the Lexington County double murders.
Investigators and prosecutors came to see Michael Torrance, who was 25 years old at the time of the murders, as the leader of the three. Torrnce had a long criminal history: on one occasion he had pointed a sawed-off shotgun at two policemen in Myrtle Beach and pulled the trigger (the gun turned out to be unloaded, though whether Torrence knew that at the time is unclear).
On another occasion, he set off a tear gas grenade inside a crowded shopping mall in Charlotte, NC, though to what purpose is also unclear. He was arrested for a series of burglaries and spent five years in a North Carolina prison. He was released on January 20, 1987 and killed his three victims in the next two months, becoming in fact a serial killer.
Prosecutors in Lexington County entered into a plea agreement with Donna Torrence, who was allowed to plead guilty of two counts of accessory after the fact and criminal conspiracy, in return for her testimony against her husband and her brother-in-law.
Thomas Torrence was found guilty of two counts of murder and armed robbery and several others crimes in connection with the Lexington County murders, in addition to being an accessory after the fact in the Charleston murder; he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Michael Torrence was convicted of the three murders. At the sentencing phase of his trial, he told tha jury that "he didn't regret doing it and would do it again if he got a chance... I don't see anything wrong with what I did." This is not the sort of thing anybody interested in a long life should be telling a South Carolina jury.
Torrence was executed at Columbia on September 6, 1996. Commenting on the small number of protesters at Torrence's execution, the president of an anti-capital punishment group, said: "He tried very hard not to have any redeeming qualities."
During the trials, a relative of the Torrence Brothers told a newspaper that the case had been the result of the trauma caused by the parents' divorce. Donna Torrence was given a prison sentence of 25 years as a result of her plea bargain.