Details emerge in alleged plot to kill teen's romantic rival

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - Lancaster Sheriff's deputies released more information in the case of a 19-year-old who is accused of plotting to kidnap and kill another man.

Authorities arrested Joseph Ray Hegler Sunday after they said he planned the killing for several weeks.

Deputies said Hegler was apparently angry with the man over the victim’s relationship with a female.

A sheriff’s deputy said he was approached in the parking lot of the sheriff’s department Sunday by an anonymous person who advised him that Hegler was planning the murder.

The tipster said the targeted victim was the new boyfriend of Hegler’s ex-girlfriend.

The police report said the man told the deputy that Hegler was going to wait at the victim’s residence and place sticks and branches in his driveway.

When the targeted victim got out to remove the debris, Hegler was going to force him with a gun to get into a car and drive to a remote location off Tabernacle Road, the report states.

The tipster told police Hegler was going to “have a talk” with the man before shooting or somehow murdering him.

The report states that Hegler was then going to:

  • Cut the victim’s body into pieces with an ax 
  • Place the pieces in trash bags
  • Wrap the victim’s head in a towel
  • Make concrete blocks containing the body parts
  • Dispose of them in a river or pond

The tipster told deputies the only part of the plan that Hegler had not figured out was what to do with the victim’s vehicle.

The man told deputies Hegler had a .22-caliber pistol but got rid of it because he didn’t like the way it handled. Hegler did have a single-shot long-range rifle, the tipster told police.

The subject told deputies that Hegler had:

  • A machete
  • Night stick
  • Baton
  • Baseball bats (one cut shorter to make it easier to swing as a club)
  • Knives
  • Gloves
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Concrete bags

The tipster told deputies where to find the items at Helger’s residence.

Deputies contacted the targeted victim and told him what Hegler’s alleged plan was and when the deputy got to the part about Hegler placing braches and sticks across the driveway, the victim said that a couple nights before he found sticks across his driveway.
He said he got out of the car and moved the stick, the report states.

Deputies caught up with Hegler during a traffic stop in a gas station parking lot Sunday. In Hegler’s truck they found  numerous weapons including an ax, a machete, knives, baseball bats (one bat was cut shorter), a gas can full of gas, latex gloves, gardening-type gloves and other blunt objects.

After taking him into custody, deputies returned to Hegler’s residence where they found six bags of concrete mix inside the trunk of a car.   Deputies said the car belonged to Hegler’s brother who had no knowledge of the plot.

Devin Lowery is a graduating senior.

"It's crazy to think somebody from Buford would plan, meditate a murder like that. That's crazy," he said.

Other students remembered Hegler as a quiet student who kept to himself.

Parents, who saw the story on the news said it frightened and saddened them.

"It's very scary. I didn't know he was from Buford so that makes it very heart-wrenching to know that there are kids out there that are thinking this way," said Donna Bender

MONDAY: Police: Teen accused in murder plot found with ax, rubber gloves