Deputy fired in 2019 accused of killing retired Rock Hill police lieutenant

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — York County Sheriff’s Office detectives have made an arrest in connection with the homicide of a retired Rock Hill police lieutenant.

Deputies were called to the Anderson Apartments on East Main Street in Rock Hill at about 3:15 p.m. Friday. When they arrived, deputies found retired Rock Hill police lieutenant Larry Vaughan dead in an apartment.

Less than four hours later, authorities arrested Robert Hawthorne, 27, of Chester, in connection with Vaughan’s death. Police said Hawthorne was found at the corner of Ebenezer and Hollis Lakes roads in Rock Hill.

Detectives do not believe the killing was a random act of violence. The coroner’s office said Vaughan had been involved in a physical assault at his apartment that led to his murder.

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Hawthorne, a former Chester County sheriff’s deputy, was arrested in 2019 for driving drunk in his patrol car and getting into a wreck, authorities said. Sheriff Max Dorsey fired Hawthorne after his arrest.

Rock Hill police have turned over the homicide investigation to the York County Sheriff’s Office. Hawthorne has been charged with murder and is in the York County Detention Center.

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“Our hearts break for our friends and colleagues at the Rock Hill Police Department and our entire law enforcement community,” said Sheriff Kevin Tolson. “I’m thankful for the diligent and the expedient work of our detectives during such a difficult case regarding an individual they know personally.”

Vaughan retired in September 2020 after 30 years of service and 20 years on the Rock Hill SWAT team.

“The retirement of LV left us with a challenge having to replace someone with so much knowledge, experience, and dedication. The loss of LV has left us with a void that can never be replaced,” Chief Chris Watts said.

A GoFundMe has been started to help Vaughan’s daughters.

“We are grateful to Sheriff Tolson and the members of the York County Sheriff’s Office for their quick work in bringing closure to what has been a very difficult day for the members of the Rock Hill Police Department,” said Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys. “We remember with gratitude the work of Lieutenant Larry Vaughan. He often served at our Council meetings and was always a reassuring presence in those meetings. Our prayers are with his family and the entire Police Department in the coming days.”

The homicide case remains under investigation.

Anyone who may have information on this case is asked to call the York County Sheriff’s Office at 803-628-3059 or remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers of York County at either 1-877-409- 4321 or crimestoppersofyorkcounty.com.

Statement from Rock Hill Police on the death of Vaughan:

“The Rock Hill Police Department is mourning the tragic loss of Retired Lieutenant Larry “LV” Vaughan. Lieutenant Vaughan began his career with the Rock Hill Police Department in June of 1990 and faithfully and tirelessly served our community for over 30 years before retiring in September of 2020. During his career, there was not much that he did not do. He was a Patrol Officer, Patrol Supervisor, Special Projects Officer, Criminal Investigations Supervisor, K-9 Officer, SWAT Sniper, SWAT Team Leader, SWAT Commander, Driving Instructor, Firearms Instructor, and a Patrol Rifle Instructor. Along the way he earned numerous awards and contributed to several competition-winning SWAT Teams. More importantly, Lieutenant Vaughan was a leader, a mentor, and a friend. Most Officers met Lieutenant Vaughan within the first couple days of joining the Department, and it never took long to realize he was called “To Serve and Protect.” Lieutenant Vaughan embraced all the challenges that arose daily and, utilizing his unorthodox thinking, found a way to resolve them. His style of policing would directly influence and educate officers around him, unknowingly preparing them for the next time a similar situation would arise. Lieutenant Vaughan was a constant when it came to working overtime. He would often take extra assignments for the opportunity to meet new people and see familiar faces. He rarely missed the opportunity to work City Council Meetings or Come See Me Events. Lieutenant Vaughan was well-known for being the Supervisor-in-Charge for the annual Christmasville Christmas Parade. He never missed the chance to ensure the safety for the participants and spectators by leading the team of officers throughout the event. Upon his retirement, Lieutenant Vaughan would often stop by the Law Center during one of his daily walks. He never failed to put smiles on everyone’s faces. Chief Watts and the entire Rock Hill Police Department sends condolences and prayers to Tashia, Tyler, Parker, and his family. Thank you all for allowing LV to be a part of our family. Thank you for the dedicated public servant who never wavered in giving all he had to our community. Lieutenant Vaughan leaves behind a heralded career that is truly one for the ages. While LV is no longer with us, his smile, laughter, leadership, guidance, and friendship will never be forgotten. His legacy at the Rock Hill Police Department will always be remembered.”

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