Suspect denied bond on Hollywood murder charge; body identified as victim

rlurye@islandpacket.comMay 17, 2014 

Suspect Jerry Manigault was denied bond Saturday on charges of murder and first-degree burglary in connection with the death of a 77-year-old Hollywood woman, whose body was found Friday afternoon near her home, according to Charleston investigators and a deputy coroner.

A body found about 5 p.m. Friday in a wooded area off Toogoodoo Road in Hollywood was identified Saturday as Julia Mudgett, who disappeared May 6, Charleston County deputy coroner Kimberly Rhoton said. Mudgett died of blunt force trauma, though it's not clear when, Rhoton said.

Her body was found wrapped in a covering in a densely wooded area about a half-mile from her home, according to Maj. Eric Watson of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

Blood in the trunk of her stolen car, found Monday in Ridgeland, led detectives to charge Manigault, 53, of Hollywood, with breaking into Mudgett's home and killing her, according to an affidavit.

Police are also "looking very hard" at Manigault in connection with the homicide Monday of Polly Ann Mitchell, 70, of Bluffton, though police have not charged him in her death, Capt. Joseph Manning of the Bluffton Police Department said.

Manigault has refused to cooperate with Bluffton and Charleston investigators, Manning and Watson have said.

"We're kind of at the mercy of forensic evidence to see what it comes back to," Manning said Saturday.

Officers will meet Monday to discuss interviews conducted over the weekend, and detectives will check on the status of DNA and other evidence testing taking place in Columbia, according to Manning.

In the Hollywood case, the affidavit outlines probable cause for the charges and gives more details about the murder. Sometime between 7 p.m. May 5 and 10 p.m. May 6, Mudgett was hit several times in the head and body, causing blood loss that is believed to have contributed to her death, according to the affidavit.

A window in the front door was broken, the house appeared to have been ransacked, kitchen cabinets were open and a large amount of blood was spattered on the floor and walls, the affidavit stated.

Mudgett's breathing machine was still running in a front room.

Manigault was arrested Monday in Bluffton on charges of failure to re-register as a sex offender and cocaine possession.

He has been charged of numerous offenses in Charleston and Beaufort counties since 1991, including August 2010 charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, burglary and strong arm robbery.

Manigault was arrested in connection with the rape of an 84-year-old Hollywood woman, according to a Charleston County sheriff report. A suspect entered the woman's home naked, choked and raped her, demanded money and left with a roll of dimes and a can of soda, the report states.

While the woman said she recognized the suspect as Manigault, who occasionally mowed her son's lawn and would ask her for water, the charges were either dismissed or not pursued following a November hearing, according to court records.

Additional information on the case, and its resolution, was not available Friday from the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office, which includes Charleston County.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

Related content:

Suspect denied bond on Hollywood murder charge; body identified as victim, May 16, 2014

Police: Suspect in Hollywood disappearance will not talk about Bluffton homicide. May 15, 2014

Police: Suspect in Hollywood disappearance being investigated for Bluffton homicide, May 14, 2014

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