Don't let girls' killer go free
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The decomposed body of 16-year-old Mary Earline
Bunch, her hands and feet bound with rope, was found buried on Folly
Beach in April 1974. She had been missing since Feb. 20, 1974. The
rope used to tie Miss Bunch was similar to that used in the
abduction of three 16-year-old girls from Summerville.
The girls told police they were walking on the beach
when an armed man approached them and forced them under a vacant house.
He then gagged the girls and tied them with clothes line.
Later, one of the girls managed to slip out of her
gag. Fortunately, a passing police officer heard her yelling.
The remains of two girls, Alexis Ann Latimer, 13, and
Sheri Jan Clark, 14, missing from Folly Beach since May 23, 1973, were
unearthed on April 17, 1974. Police found the grave of the two girls a
short distance from where the body of Miss Bunch was discovered.
Navy authorities told police of an assault previously
reported to them after the Bunch girls' body was found. A suspect,
Richard Raymond Valenti, was identified from Navy photos.
Valenti was indicted on three counts of murder for
the deaths of the three girls at Folly Beach. He was also indicted on
one count of assault and battery with intent to kill and one charge of
assault and battery with intent to ravish.
He was also charged on four counts of assault with
intent to kill stemming from the abduction of the three Summerville
girls and one similar incident in which a girl was found tied up behind
the James Island shopping center.
The Charleston County Medical Examiner testified at
the Valenti murder trial that the two teen-age girls found buried on
Folly Beach died by hanging. In a taped statement, Valenti described how
he approached the girls on the beach with a gun and told them if they
did not comply with his orders he would shoot them.
He then took them to a vacant house where in an
outside shower stall he had them partially disrobe and tied their hands
Valenti said he made the girls undress and pose in
various positions, and then had them stand on a chair while he placed
nooses round their neck and tied the rope to water pipes above their
heads. Valenti then kicked the chair out from under them and watched
them struggle till they died.
On June 2, 1974, Valenti was found guilty of murder
in the hanging deaths of the two James Island girls and was sentenced to
two terms of life imprisonment, to be served consecutively.
The prosecutor asked for the death penalty for
Valenti, which was denied by the judge because of the
unconstitutionality of the state's capital punishment law at the time.
Valenti was never tried for the four counts of assault with intent to
kill stemming from the abduction of the three Summerville girls and the
girl from James Island.
Valenti comes up for parole every two years, and his
next projected paroled date is Jan. 2, 2008. His Department of
Corrections ID Number is 00071878.
I respectfully request that the good people of South
Carolina ask the Parole Board to deny parole to Valenti. Let him serve
the prison sentence he received — two consecutive life sentences.
Short-term captivity in a
By Mark Owen - Felicity.com
On May 23, 1973, two teenage
girls were reported missing from the area near Folly Beach, Charlestown,
South Carolina. They were Sherri Jan Clark, 15, and Alexis Ann Latimer,
14. Their last known whereabouts was at a beach house belonging to the
parents of Alexis. They had been cleaning it. Months went by and no
trace of the girls was found; it was as if they vanished off the face of
the earth. Then, on September 27, a young woman escaped the attentions
of a would-be rapist in the same area. At the time, however, she did not
report this to the State police, only to Naval officers.
On February 12, 1974 at about 5
pm someone discovered a teenage girl bound to a tree in a shopping
centre. She was unharmed but had been through an ordeal. A man had
threatened her with a gun as he compelled her to submit to being tied to
A few days later, on February
21, another teenage girl went missing. Mary Earline Bunch, 16, was last
seen by some friends, after which she simply vanished like the first two
girls. About seven weeks later a young female visitor to the area
reported to police that a man had tried to abduct her off the street.
She had managed to break free and escape. By now it was becoming
apparent that there might be some connection between these various
assaults and disappearances.
The very next day, April 12, a
policeman happened to be investigating another matter at a remote part
of the local beach when he passed an isolated cottage, and as he did so
heard the sounds of someone in distress. Investigating further he
discovered three teenage girls below the cottage, all tightly bound and
gagged. One had managed to loosen her gag. These were not, however, the
missing girls but three more!
They had, they told police, been
held up on the beach by a man with a gun, who then proceeded to tie them
up. When police examined the rope used they thought it looked identical
with the rope used on the girl left tied in the shopping centre.
When a sketch of the wanted man
was published someone contacted police to tell them that he had noticed
his pet dog acting strangely at one place on the beach. Police soon
began digging and the body of Mary Earline Bunch was uncovered. She had
been bound hand and foot with the same rope as had been used on the
other girls. Eventually the State police were led to the girl who had
escaped being raped. She identified the man as being the one who had
approached her. He had bound and gagged her first, then removed the gag
again and they had a discussion as to whether or not she would allow him
to have intercourse with her. She had told him she was willing provided
he untied her. The suspect had untied her but became flustered when he
could not achieve an erection and it was obvious he had problems
associated with the need to bind the girl. Somehow she had managed to
talk her way to freedom!
The suspect was a sailor at the
nearby Naval base, Richard Raymond Valenti, 32, who was interviewed by
investigators and charged with several counts of assault and three of
murder. He later reportedly assisted them in uncovering the bodies of
the other two missing teenagers.
According to police Valenti told
them he felt strong sexual urges that came over him when he had reduced
females to a state helplessness. In each case he had forced them to
partly undress and had bound both their wrists and ankles. He had also
tied them in more than one manner. He would first tie a girl with her
hands in front of her, then with them behind.
Finally he had indulged in the
ultimate fantasy. He had forced the girls to stand on a chair in the
shower recess and tied a rope about their necks, passing it over an
overhead pipe. He claimed he would have untied them again, after they
had experienced the fear of hanging, but in their panic, according to
his account, they knocked the chair over and hung in the noose. Their
feet were 'almost touching the floor,' he claimed, as he sat watching
During the trial Valenti's wife
testified that her husband had a fetishist interest in ropes and she had
once discovered him naked on the bathroom floor, fondling a length of
rope while he masturbated. A doctor told the court that Valenti had 'a
serious mental disorder which is the desire to control women in bondage.'
Valenti was found guilty on two counts of murder and given two life