18-year-old found dismembered in Lancaster County; 2 arrested

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Authorities revealed Friday that an 18-year-old man was found dismembered in Lancaster County.

Investigators said Austin Steele, who would have turned 19 on Friday, was shot and killed, then his body was dismembered in an effort to hide the body.

Austin Steele

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office received a tip Thursday that a homicide took place at a home on Highpoint Circle several weeks ago.

Investigators searched the property and said they found dismembered human remains. A human torso without limbs was found buried on the property, a human skull was found outside, bones were found in a burn barrel, and more bones were found in a box under a mobile home on the property, investigators said.

"No death investigation is without mental burden, but this particular case, from initial notification, to  recovery, to processing is very haunting and disturbing," Lancaster County Administrative Deputy Coroner Jennifer Collins said.

"It's like something you see on TV. I never thought we had anyone here in Lancaster capable of something like this," Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile said.

Deputies arrested Christopher Holford, who has been charged with Steele's murder. Brandy Duncan was arrested Friday morning and charged as an accessory after the fact of murder. Holford and Duncan were just married last month.

Christopher Holford

Investigators said Holford, Duncan, and Steele all lived in a mobile home on the Highpoint Circle property behind the main house.

Authorities said Holford was arrested for domestic violence just before the tip that led officers to Steele's body.

A nurse at Springs Memorial Hospital told police she saw Holford hit Duncan, his pregnant wife, and tried to push her out of a hospital bed.

Duncan told the nurse she was scared of Holford and she knew he was a killer.

The nurse said Duncan told her Holford often committed acts of violence toward her and told her he is a killer several times, the police report says.

Family told Channel 9 they had not heard from Steele, 19, in three weeks. They fear the worst because he was hanging out with a rough crowd.

"I tried to tell him, 'You don't need to be around them.' He got it in his head, 'I'm grown up, you can't keep me here,' so he moved out on his own," Steele's aunt said.

Brandy Duncan

Investigators said they learned that Holford shot Steele in the neck several weeks ago. Steele survived into the night, but died the next morning, according to authorities. They said Holford dismembered Steele's body as an attempt to conceal it.

Investigators have not released a motive in the case.

Holford, who is also a registered sex offender, was denied bond early Friday morning. Duncan has not appeared yet before a magistrate judge for a bond hearing.

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