Sandlapper Society

Notorious SC Criminals and Law Enforcers

Pee Wee Gaskins

Susan Smith

Larry Gene Bell

Melvin Purvis


Criminals

Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins

Pee Wee Gaskins, the most prolific killer in South Carolina's history, claimed to have killed over 100 people. Born in Florence, Gaskins was a criminal from a young age. He tortured, raped and cannibalized many of his victims. While on Death Row, Gaskins tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists, but prison guards found him before he bled to death. He went to the electric chair in 1991 with stitches in his wrists.

Susan Smith

In 1994, the nation watched as Susan Smith, a young mother from Union, stood trial for killing her two young sons. Disillusioned by a life of abuse and a failed affair with the town's most eligible bachelor, Smith strapped her boys in her car and rolled it into John D. Long Lake. She is serving 30 to life at Leath Correctional Center.

Larry Gene Bell

Born in Alabama, Bell moved to Columbia in 1965. In 1985, he kidnapped Shari Faye Smith and Debra May Helmick, triggering the largest manhunt in South Carolina history. He murdered both his victims. Throughout his trial, Bell acted in a bizarre manner, hoping to be declared insane so as to receive a more lenient sentence. He chose the electric chair over lethal injection and was executed in 1996.

Law Enforcers

Melvin Purvis

This Timmonsville native was born in 1903 and received a law degree from the University of South Carolina before joining the FBI. During his career with the bureau, he led the manhunts for Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger. He captured more public enemies than any other FBI agent. His story has been portrayed in several films including Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.