Our card this week is Willie Troy Price Sr., the King of Diamonds from South Carolina.
You may have already looked at your feed and noticed, but today I’m dropping two episodes
instead of just one.
The stories that you’ll hear aren’t connected, but they do have something in common.
They’re both being investigated as possible cases of mistaken identity.
Cases like these are hard to tell because oftentimes there’s just not a lot to the
investigation once police realize that the victim wasn’t who the killer thought they
But these victims still deserve to have their stories told.
So right now I’m going to tell you about Willie Troy Price Sr., a 53-year-old South
Carolina man who was minding his own business inside his home one winter evening in 2017
when suddenly a group of cowards shot into the house and then fled without a trace.
Willie’s senseless death has puzzled investigators for five years as they’ve struggled to find
anyone who might have had it out for him, leaving them with one nagging question.
Was Willie even the intended target?
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
It was around 10.45 p.m. on January 18, 2017, and a woman who we’ll call Denise was in
her home on Plainview Road in Anderson County, South Carolina, winding down for the evening.
And that’s when she was startled by several loud bangs.
They sounded like gunshots.
At first, it was just two gunshots, then a series of eight or nine rapid fire shots
Now, Denise wasn’t immediately alarmed because it just sounded like her neighbor a few houses
down doing some target practice in his yard, as he often did.
But Denise wanted to be sure, so she went outside just to double check.
When she stepped out the door, she immediately knew something was off.
She saw a car speeding away from where she heard the shots, booking it to the main road
without its lights on.
Moments later, her heart sank even further.
Her neighbor’s stepson, Roy Jones, came barreling out of the house across the street, frantically
yelling, Pops has been hit.
Pops was a nickname for her 53-year-old disabled neighbor, Willie Troy Price Sr.
Denise wasted no time.
She ran inside Willie’s house, and she saw a scene that she’d never be able to forget.
Sprawled out on the floor of the living room in a pool of blood was Willie.
He’d been shot at least once in his stomach.
Denise immediately called 911, and the dispatcher instructed her to hold pressure on the wound
until first responders arrived.
When medics got there moments later, they found Willie unresponsive.
He’d actually been hit twice.
He was rushed to a nearby medical center, where they attempted to resuscitate him.
But after 20-some minutes, it became clear that their efforts were useless.
At midnight, Willie was officially declared dead.
Detectives with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office roped off the property to begin their
And a few detectives took Denise and Roy aside to get their stories of what happened.
Still in shock, Roy did his best to recount the evening to investigators.
He said he spent most of the night visiting with Willie, whom he referred to as his stepfather.
And that title was only honorary, because Willie was never actually married to Roy’s
But Willie had dated Roy’s mom and had a big hand in raising him, so Roy always called
him his stepdad.
Anyway, Roy told police that while he was hanging out at Willie’s place, he needed
to use the restroom.
For some reason, the water at Willie’s was temporarily turned off, so Roy knew that he
needed to go somewhere else.
His mother lived just a few houses down in the same neighborhood, so that’s where he
Roy had seen Willie chatting with an older woman sitting in her car just outside the
house, so he asked her to give him a ride to keep from walking all that way.
She agreed and then drove him back to Willie’s place when he was done.
Then, just as the woman dropped Roy off in Willie’s driveway and began to leave, Roy
He ran inside Willie’s house and hid in a hallway until the gunfire stopped.
And that’s when he walked into the living room and found Willie.
In a panic, he booked it outside to find anyone who could help.
He saw Denise and asked her to call the police.
Roy told investigators he didn’t see any cars near Willie’s place during the shooting,
and he thought the gunfire was coming from outside by like this wood line kind of in
front of the house.
And more importantly, he couldn’t think of any reason anyone would want to hurt Willie.
Willie was retired and had paraplegia.
He didn’t seem to have an enemy in the world.
Everyone in the community called him Pops, and he was like the unofficial neighborhood
Roy also told investigators that he himself didn’t have any ongoing issues or arguments
with anyone, so he didn’t think that the attack was aimed at him either.
So after talking with Roy, detectives interviewed Denise.
She told them about hearing the gunshots, thinking it was the neighbor, going outside,
seeing the car speeding away, and then finding Willie.
She was distraught about everything.
I mean, she’d lived across the street from Willie for the past four years, and he’d
become more than a neighbor.
They had grown to be good friends.
But when investigators heard her story, they were interested in that neighbor that she
said often did target practice in his yard.
But the thing is, Denise said that this guy was a responsible gun owner, and she didn’t
think that he was involved in any way.
Besides, he drove a red pickup truck, and his wife drove a silver SUV, neither of which
were the car that she saw speeding away from Willie’s house.
Though she didn’t get a great look at the car, and she couldn’t offer much of a description,
but she did say it was small, like too small to be a truck or SUV.
Now Denise also told investigators that this wasn’t the first time there’d been a shooting
in the neighborhood.
She said that six or seven months prior, someone had shot up a vacant house on the corner near
But investigators were already very aware of some of the issues this neighborhood faced.
Lieutenant Sheila Cole with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office was quoted in the Greenville
News saying that the road is, quote, known by people in our criminal investigations division
for its varied criminal activity, end quote.
But as far as investigators knew, Willie wasn’t involved in any of that criminal activity.
I mean, according to an article from Independent Mail, he pled guilty to some drug and solicitation
charges more than a decade ago, but there was nothing on his record recently.
And that’s what was stumping investigators.
Who would have wanted to hurt a kind, disabled man who, by all accounts, hadn’t an enemy
in the world?
Crime scene technicians tried to see if they could answer that question by scouring Willie’s
house and property.
Here’s Sergeant Kendall Cash with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
We held that scene for at least 24 hours and that doesn’t happen that often where you
hold a scene for so long just to search it.
And the reason we held that for so long was because we were doing, it’s kind of like a
You just kind of walk a line in a field and you’re looking for shell casings or anything
And it was shocking because there was quite a few shell casings and you would not think
that this old paraplegic man would have at least one, maybe two people that would just
unload a barrage of ammunition at a house that had somebody like that in it without
having really pissed them off.
As investigators were carefully searching every square inch of Willie’s property, other
Sheriff’s Office detectives were processing the scene of another shooting six miles away
that happened literally mere minutes before the shooting that killed Willie.
The Anderson Independent Mail reported that a 34-year-old man was shot on Leon Drive and
was taken to a nearby hospital with critical wounds.
Since the two shootings happened a few miles apart and, again, within minutes of each other,
officers thought that they might be related and possibly related to drugs somehow.
I mean, it was just a theory, but something investigators kept in mind as they worked
Back in Willie’s neighborhood, officers were canvassing the area asking around to see if
anybody besides Denise and Roy saw anything suspicious.
And actually, a few people had.
A woman who lived a few houses down the street who we’re going to call Sonia said that she
heard the gunshots.
But just like Denise, when she first heard them, she wasn’t immediately frightened because
her neighbor often shot off his gun at weird times.
Now, it’s not clear if this is the same neighbor that Denise mentioned to police, but if it
was, Sonia painted him as a little less responsible than Denise did by mentioning that he usually
would do this when he was drunk.
When she would hear him doing that, she’d storm outside to yell at him to quit.
So when she heard the gunfire, she walked outside to tell her neighbor to cut it out,
but he wasn’t there.
Instead, she noticed a van type vehicle leaving from Willie’s house.
It was boxy and maybe silver and like low to the ground, lower than an SUV would normally
She thought it was probably an older model because it didn’t reflect light very well.
Sonia then heard Roy call for help and she noticed that Denise was going over to Willie’s
to do just that.
Sonia then told police something that probably further confirmed their working theory.
She said that she saw people coming and going from Willie’s house all the time, and she
indicated that she thought some of his visitors were there for drugs.
Now she admitted that she didn’t know for sure that that’s what was going on, but she
just got the feeling.
So she actively tried not to look out the window in that direction because she didn’t
want to see a drug deal go down.
But Sonia wasn’t the only person in the neighborhood to see something suspicious the night that
Willie was killed.
A woman who lived around the corner heard the round of gunshots and went outside to
investigate, and when she stepped outside, she noticed that her dogs were barking at
something near a tree stump in the backyard.
She thought that might be significant because in the past, when people committed crimes
in the area, they’d use her backyard as kind of a shortcut to get to and from the
road that Willie lived on.
But maybe of more importance was a car that she noticed parked nearby when she walked
It was at the abandoned blue house on the corner.
It was a white car, and it was the first time that she’d ever seen it.
And actually, the car was still there when she was talking to detectives, so she pointed
it out to them.
They thought the car looked abandoned.
One of the detectives noted that it had a donut-type spare tire on it.
Now it’s unclear if investigators actually followed up on the white car lead, but it
seems like they felt that it wasn’t related to Willie’s murder.
Now later in the day, investigators learned about an attempted murder earlier that morning
in the same city, and it was possibly connected to Willie’s death.
At around 9.30 that morning in Anderson, a man was walking back to his apartment from
the nearby Little General, and as he approached his complex, he noticed an older tan model
Chevy car approaching.
The car stopped, and the two men got out and grabbed a white trash bag out of the car,
but it looked like the trash bag had a rifle inside.
The man said he heard a gunshot, and as he was trying to figure out what these guys were
shooting at, he heard another shot, then felt a sharp pain in his foot.
He took off running and managed to escape any further gunfire.
Now I have no idea why investigators thought Willie’s case was connected to that attempted
Maybe it was just close enough in location, and again, time-wise, they thought that there
was a connection that was maybe possible, or maybe they were just grasping at straws.
Whatever the case, the chances of either of the possibly connected attempted murders being
solved anytime soon weren’t looking good, so for now, they were just empty theories.
As the days passed by, investigators started considering the possibility that maybe Willie
wasn’t the intended target.
Not only could they not find anyone who had an ax to grind with Willie, but police knew
of someone who lived a high-risk lifestyle, who frequented the area, who they were beginning
to think was the intended target.
Detective Cash didn’t want to get into that part of the investigation or identify the
individual on record, but he said it’s the theory he’s most confident in today.
But it’s a bit of a tangled web, and any information he gave away about that thread
of the case could jeopardize the entire investigation.
And here’s the thing.
Even though they have this new lead, and they’re following it, Willie’s case remains at a
As far as those other attempted murders go, they’re still unsolved, too, so it’s unclear
if they’re connected.
Once you have run out of every lead that you can imagine, you just cannot do anything else.
For five years, whoever killed Willie has gotten away with it, and if the people who
know what happened don’t speak up, those cowards may never be caught.
So please, if you have any information about Willie’s murder in 2017, now is the time to
break your silence.
Call Sergeant Kendall Cash at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office at 864-231-2809.
Or you can call the Detective Bureau line at 864-260-4435.
And don’t forget to check out the second episode that we dropped today.
It’s available right now.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
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