The Murder of Malakia Logan

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EARLY LIFE:

Malakia “Kia” Zali Logan was born on August 1, 1979 to parents Richard and Bernetta Logan. Her father was the mayor of Saluda, a small town in South Carolina, and her mother was a teacher at a local middle school.

Kia was a third grade student at Merrywood Elementary School. She lived with her mother and her sister, Renee, in an apartment complex just north of the rural city of Greenwood, South Carolina.

DISAPPEARANCE:

On the evening on May 15, 1988, Kia and Renee were playing basketball with a friend at the court of a nearby park, located 300 yards from their apartment complex. At around 8:15pm, Kia decided she wanted to return home and thus grabbed her bike and left. Renee and their friend decided to stay at the court for a short while longer.

Renee arrived home approximately 15 to 20 minutes later and it was discovered that Kia had not returned. Bernetta spent a few minutes searching the area around the apartment complex, but when she couldn’t find her daughter, she called the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office to report her as missing.

SEARCH:

The case surrounding Kia’s disappearance was initially investigated as a simple missing persons report. Upon receiving Bernetta’s call, a bulletin was released, featuring the young girl’s description, which informed the county’s officers that she was an African American female who stood at 4’2″; weighed 60 to 70 pounds; and was wearing yellow shorts, a yellow-and-white polka dot shirt, and slip-on shoes.

An initial search of the area around the apartment complex by investigators led to the discovery of Kia’s bicycle, which was located in the parking lot, just outside of the apartment office. This would prove to be one of the only clues found during the course of the investigation.

The responding deputy ended up spending the night on the Logan family’s couch, in case someone called with a ransom or if Kia herself somehow managed to communicate with them. However, no calls were received and the real investigation into her disappearance began.

On May 16, 1988, approximately 75 people, including citizen volunteers, conducted another search of the area around the apartment complex, aided by helicopters provided by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, also known as SLED. This search continued until it was too dark, but resumed the next day. Despite their efforts, no evidence was found. After a few days, the Director of Greenwood’s Emergency Preparedness said the group would be suspending their involvement in the search and would wait for law enforcement to request further assistance before getting involved again.

On May 18, 1988, police released a statement to the public, which informed residents that two men were seen in the vicinity of the apartment complex on the afternoon Kia went missing. While they were not considered suspects, investigators did want to question them. The first man was described as being white, older in age and with greying hair, and was seen driving a medium blue utility-type van with dark tinted windows.

The second man proved to be of greater interest to investigators. He was described as white, between the ages of 35 and 40, 5’8″ to 5’9″ tall and 250 pounds. He had a pockmarked face with pointed features, and his hair is believed to have been brownish with sun streaks. They were able to release a composite of him, which aired on the evening news, along with a description of his vehicle, which was believed to be a mid-1970’s dark blue or black Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Witnesses said they hadn’t seen Kia near the men or getting into either of their vehicles.

Throughout the beginning of the search for her daughter, Bernetta begged the kidnapper to show some mercy toward Kia. In the weeks after, she would find it difficult to leave the telephone unattended, in case she missed a call from someone related to the case.

The Malakia Z. Logan Reward Fund was established by Tuck Wooten, the Head of A.M. Tuck Inc. It saw donations come in from both residents of Greenwood and local businesses, resulting in a total of over $20,000 raised.

Numerous people called in potential sightings of Kia or of people who may know something about the case. These tips carried the investigation outside the Greenwood area, with investigators pursuing leads to as far away at California. They also tried to see if her disappearance was tied to other missing persons cases from surrounding states.

On October 1, 1990, a deer hunter was walking along a pasture in a wooded area on US Forest Service Property in Newberry County, South Carolina. Along Mount Pleasant Road – also known as the S.C. 34 Highway – he came across a badly decomposed human skull, which prompted him to contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office. The location of the skull was four miles east of the city of Newberry and 35 miles east of Greenwood. The Sheriff’s Office, along with other law enforcement and volunteer agencies, conducted a three week search of the area, but were unable to locate any other remains.

A forensic anthropologist with the University of South Carolina examined the skull and found it belonged to an African American child between the ages of 6 and 8. At this point, police were convinced it belonged to Kia, but were unable to positively conclude this, despite using dental records and the skull reconstruction techniques made available to them. In 1993, the skull was sent to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC for DNA testing, but the results were inconclusive. Three years later, in 1996, Newberry County investigators asked a private genetics lab in North Carolina to perform mitochondrial DNA testing, using DNA obtained from Kia’s parents, which suggested the skull did, in fact, belong to Kia, a fact that was confirmed upon the skull being sent to the FBI lab in Washington in 1998.

Police have deduced that she was killed Greenwood County and her body dumped in Newberry County.

Between July 1995 and August 1996, authorities in Georgia and South Carolina were investigating a string of abductions and sexual assaults of young Black children along a specific state highway. All six victims had a similar look and profile, with all living close to the highway, and they were all sexually assaulted before being abandoned in a public area, bar one, who was not assaulted and later dropped off at a gas station, where she called for help.

The only inconsistencies in the cases were the different times and days on which the abductions occurred, as well as the fact each victim cited a different vehicle being involved. They did, however, share a similar suspect description of a middle-aged white man with grey stubble, a pockmarked complexion and a tattoo of either a dragon or a snake on one of his biceps.

It was not long until 52-year-old Charles Wade Hampton, a maintenance worker at the Hard Labor Creek State Park rest stop in Georgia and a former employee of the Department of Transportation, came onto police radar. Not only did he have a snake tattoo on his upper arm, but he appeared eager to help investigators, giving blood and hair samples, as well as granting them permission to search his car and home. During these searches, they uncovered many out-of-place items, as well as images of nude women and adults, a pornographic magazine, torn-out magazine images of children and several photographs of children in their underwear. Children’s underwear was also found and sent away for forensic testing.

Hampton openly confessed to committing several of the abductions and willingly provided details of the accompanying assaults, with most details matching up with what the victims had provided. He admitted to committing three child abductions in northern Georgia and confessed to having killed a child at an out-of-state farm. Police were later able to link him to a farm, which was owned by a friend.

During the investigation, police drove him around to many of the abduction sites, and while he was able to share some information, he didn’t know any of the minute details the actual perpetrator would, leading them to believe he was making up his confessions. Eventually, DNA testing would show that, while the same suspect was involved in all six abductions, Hampton was not the one who committed them.

While in a Georgia prison, investigators in North Carolina and Florida were looking at Hampton’s potential involvement in similar abductions and assaults in their states, as the abductions stopped as soon as he was locked up. This was in 1996, where he plead guilty to having drilled a hole into a women’s restroom at a Georgia rest stop and was sentenced to five years. However, this was also when he stopped cooperating with authorities and recanted all of his prior confessions.

Upon being let out of prison, he was immediately re-arrested for the 1995 abduction and rape of a 7-year-old victim from Richland County, South Carolina. While he had previously confessed to the crime, he recanted, resulting in the rape charge being dropped due to a lack of evidence.

In November 2002, Hampton was transferred to a jail in Greenwood County and charged with murder, abduction and intent to commit criminal sexual misconduct on a minor, all in relation to Kia’s disappearance and murder. According to investigators, they’d had a case against him since 2000 and he’d, in fact, been a suspect since 1996. However, they’d waited to pursue their case, as they didn’t want to risk activating an interstate agreement between Georgia and South Carolina, which would have required them to have brought Hampton to trial within 180 days of the charges being laid.

According to investigators, they’d managed to uncover strong evidence linking Hampton to Kia’s murder, including a version of events that included details only someone involved would know, which was enough for a Greenwood County grand jury to indict him on the charges. Given the case they’d put together, they were prepared to pursue the death penalty.

Hampton pleaded not guilty to the charges and immediately recanted his confession, just as he’d done in previous cases.

On June 22, 2007, the prosecutor announced that the charges against Hampton would be dropped, citing a lack of evidence to corroborate his prior confession. However, they did say they would pursue new charges, should new evidence surface.

Despite the charges being dropped in relation to Kia’s murder, Hampton was convicted on obstruction of justice in relation to the Richland County case and his alleged false confessions. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, with credit for time served and good behaviour.

As of publishing, there have not been any new updates in relation to Kia’s disappearance and murder, nor about the investigation into it.

THEORIES:

1) The only theory in the case is that Charles Wade Hampton is the person who abducted and murder Kia. This is due to his alleged confessions, which he would later recant. Police have shared that Kia’s abduction was a crime of opportunity, and that Hampton did not know the young girl.

AFTERMATH:

Kia’s case was featured on a 1990 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

In 2009, the Malakia Logan Memorial Scholarship was established at Lander University, in her hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Those with information regarding the case can contact the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office at 864-942-8600 or the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division at 803-737-9000.

Image Credit: Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

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