• DNA leads deputies to a suspect after decomposed body found in woods

    By: Greg Suskin


    LANCASTER, S.C. - Rayshawn James told Channel 9 he can finally rest.

    "I have reason to be happy today," James said. "We can all mourn him now."

    Rayshawn James is talking about his brother, 33-year-old Rickey James, known as Rick, who's badly decomposed body was found Saturday in the woods behind Mullis Road in Lancaster County.

    On Friday a man with "Satan" tattooed into his forehead was charged with the murder of Rick James.

    David Pate, 24, was already in jail on a disorderly conduct charge when he was served a murder warrant Friday morning.

    Lancaster County Sheriff's deputies said DNA evidence helped lead to the charge, though they suspected Pate from the beginning.

    Family members went to Lancaster police and reported Rick James missing on Oct. 19, two days after they'd last seen him. He'd been intermittently staying with his brother. Some children playing in the woods discovered his remains Saturday, nearly a month after he went missing.

    Deputies now believe Pate killed Rick James and covered his body with a pile of brush. The body was only a few yards behind the mobile home where Rick James had been staying with his brother.

    On Wednesday sheriff's deputies asked Eyewitness News for a picture of the victim, which his family had e-mailed to Channel 9. They wanted to look at a large gold ring that was visible on his finger.

    On Friday deputies told Channel 9 that ring was found at 1150 Mullis Circle, where Pate lives with his parents.

    Wendy Nelson lives two doors down from Pate on Mullis Circle. She said he made her uneasy, but just this month Pate and his stepfather asked her if she needed any help moving. She allowed him inside her home to help her. Now, she can't believe she did that.

    "He was in my house a week before then. It scares me to death because I have two small children," Nelson said.

    Channel 9 spoke to several neighbors who said they recognized Pate's mug shot, but never spoke to him.

    The remains of Rick James were so decomposed deputies said they'll probably never know how he was killed. They also don't know why.

    His brothers, Rayshawn James and Antwan James, believe it was a robbery.

    Pate had been in jail since Nov.11 on a disorderly conduct charge. He was scheduled to be released next week.

    His lengthy criminal history stretches back to 2008, and includes assault and battery, burglary and property crime convictions.

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