Lancaster Man Convicted Of Slaying, Dismembering Teen Roommate

The Latest (11/13/20):

A Lancaster man convicted of killing his teenage roommate and disposing of the body has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Christopher Allen Holford, 33, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the February 2018 death of Austin Tyler Steele, 18, news outlets reported.

The two men lived in a mobile home near Lancaster, along with Holford’s 22-year-old wife, authorities said. The defendant was accused of shooting Steele in the throat before cutting up the body and burying the remains around the property, according to court testimony.

Holford entered his plea Thursday in court but did not speak otherwise, outlets reported.

In previous statements to police and letters sent from jail, he initially denied involvement and blamed his wife for the slaying, but later admitted to killing Steele and covering up the crime, prosecutors testified. Holford allegedly signed one letter “Hatchet Man,” prosecutors said.

A motive was not given, though Holford’s court-appointed lawyer, Alston DeVenny, argued he had sustained trauma in his past and that he had since shown remorse for Steele’s killing.

Holford had a previous child molestation conviction as well as drugs and weapons violations dating back to 2005, records showed.

The Latest (3/2/18):

Deputies have charged two suspects after finding the dismembered remains of a missing 18-year-old Thursday afternoon.

Christopher Holford, 30, is charged with Murder and his wife Brandy Duncan, 19, is charged with Accessory After the Fact of Murder in the death of Austin Steele.

The couple was married last month, according to investigators, and lived in a mobile home with Steele on the High Point Circle property behind the main house. Officials say the three were renting the mobile home from the property’s owner.

According to detectives, Steele died several weeks ago after being shot in the neck by Holford. The morning after the shooting Holford and Duncan allegedly dismembered his body and hid it around the property.

The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office issued the following statement after releasing the results of the autopsy:

“Autopsy results are complete on the remains recovered from High Point Circle in Lancaster, SC.  The victim died from a single gunshot wound.  The victim is believed to be Austin Tyler Steele of Lancaster, SC.  Lancaster County Coroner’s Office is working to positively identify through DNA.  No death investigation is without mental burden, but this particular case, from initial notification, to  recovery, to processing is very haunting and disturbing.”

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office says investigators discovered a human torso with missing limbs buried on the property, a human skull was found outside, bones were found in a burn barrel, and bones were found in a box under the mobile home.

Officials say the revolver used to kill Steele was also found inside the main house, as well as an axe, broken sword, and knives inside the mobile home.

Holford was already in custody when deputies received the call yesterday morning regarding a possible homicide on High Point Circle. Officials say he was arrested by Lancaster Police around 5am Thursday on a Third-Degree Domestic Violence charge.

Detectives also charged Holford, a registered sex offender, with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature for pointing a gun at Duncan during an incident they learned about while investigating Steele’s murder, and served a warrant for Failure to Provide Internet Information in connection with the sex offender registry.

At the time this article was written, Holford has been denied bond on the Murder charge and Duncan is waiting to appear before a judge.

Original Story (3/1/18):

LANCASTER, SC — Authorities are investigating a homicide after human remains were discovered near a home Thursday afternoon.

According to deputies, someone reported a possible homicide early this morning that had allegedly taken place at a home on High Point Circle several weeks ago. Officials obtained search warrants for the property after gathering additional information they say pointed to the body having been disposed of at the home.

Multiple agencies including SLED, a cadaver K-9 from Foothills Search and Rescue, and a forensic anthropologist with the Richland County Coroner’s Office searched the property for several hours.

Around mid-afternoon, investigators say human remains were discovered.

Officials say an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the identity of the victim. The investigation is active and has been labeled a homicide.

“The information reported to us has been corroborated so far during our search of this property,” said Sheriff Barry Faile. “A suspect is in custody on unrelated charges, and we do not believe the public is in danger. I appreciate the hard work all personnel have done today and will continue to do into the evening. We will release more information as we can.”