Lady's Island man charged with attempted murder of mother-in-law

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 21, 2013 

A Lady's Island man has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly attacking his mother-in-law with a baseball bat and blowing through a security stop on Fripp Island as he fled, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

James Robert Workman, 40, was arrested at 1 p.m. Sunday and charged with first-degree burglary and attempted murder after an assault Saturday at a Fripp Island home, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies went to 5 Fairway Club Drive just after 11 p.m. Saturday after hearing of an assault, according to a news release. They met with 68-year-old Catherine Harmon, who was suffering from a head injury. She told authorities that Workman had come into her home yelling and cursing at her. He then struck her several times in the head with a baseball bat.

Workman's 16-year-old daughter, who was staying at the home, tried to pull Workman away from her grandmother. Harmon fled to a bedroom, locking herself inside. Workman then left in his vehicle.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh did not offer a motive for the attack. She also said she did not know whether there was a history of problems between Workman and Harmon.

Workman's daughter was uninjured, the Sheriff's Office said.

Harmon was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for treatment of head injuries. Authorities said Monday they did not know her condition.

Fripp Island security officers attempted to stop Workman's vehicle as he came on the island about 11 p.m., because he did not have a decal allowing entry, but Workman continued past the guard shack, Fripp general manager Kate Hines said.

Vehicles can access Fripp only by a bridge from Hunting Island. The guard shack stands at the entrance to the gated resort island.

Fripp Island security found Workman's car, a gray 2011 Hyundai Sonata, at about 8 a.m. Sunday, abandoned on the island at 443 Porpoise Drive. Shortly before 1 p.m., deputies spotted Workman near the restrooms at Hunting Island State Park's south beach.

"According to a witness at Hunting Island, Workman appeared to be scratched up and had numerous bug bites, so he was likely out in the woods," McIntosh said.

Hines said she was told Workman swam across Fripp Inlet; she said she does not think he walked past the security gate to leave the island.

"He did not walk across that bridge," she said.

Hines said residents were told by email at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday to be on the lookout for Workman. A follow-up email was sent at 12:55 p.m. notifying them of his arrest.

Hines said the company waited on information from the Sheriff's Office before sending out the first email, and the Sheriff's Office followed with a reverse-911 phone call message to residents after Workman was arrested a short time later.

Workman was arrested and taken to the Beaufort County Detention Center, where he was being held without bond, according to the jail log.

Anyone with information about the incident can call Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC (274-6372) or text the word TIPSC with a message to CRIMES (274637).

Follow reporter Erin Moody at

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