The man accused of murdering a 25-year-old Beaufort native last week drove his victim's pickup truck to hang out with friends at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and used the dead man's debit card to purchase sneakers, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Wednesday.
As new details of his death emerged, friends and former teachers of William Alex Apps recalled a smart, funny young man.
Investigators say the 25-year-old College of Charleston student and Beaufort Academy graduate was shot in the head and killed while showing his 2006 Chevrolet pickup truck to two Charleston-area residents who had responded to his for-sale advertisement on Craigslist.
Jquan Marquel Scott, 19, who the Charleston County Sheriff's Office says shot Apps, aroused suspicion by using Apps' debit card to buy shoes and make other purchases in Beaufort County over the weekend, Tanner said at a news conference.
Scott, who led authorities to the area where Apps' body was discovered Monday, is charged with murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. His bail was set at $150,000 on the robbery and weapons charges Tuesday night, with no bail set on the murder and kidnapping charges, said Charleston County Sheriff's Office spokesman Maj. Jim Brady.
A second suspect, 20-year-old Isaac Romell Williams of Charleston, also is charged with kidnapping and murder. Scott and Williams are being held in the Charleston County jail awaiting a bail hearing before a circuit judge, Brady said.
Neither Scott nor Williams has a previous criminal record in South Carolina, according to State Law Enforcement Division records. Scott had enrolled to attend Charleston Southern University in January, attorney Jim Brown of Beaufort said at his bail hearing, as Scott sniffled and wiped his eyes.
But John Strubel, a spokesman for Charleston Southern University, told the (Charleston) Post & Courier that Scott had not been accepted to attend school there and was never a prospective student.
CONTACT WITH SCOTT
According to a news release Wednesday from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, Apps' mother told investigators her son had been in contact with Scott and Williams for weeks about buying the truck, which Apps had listed on Craigslist. Because she holds the title to the vehicle, she drove to Charleston on Thursday to bring it to him, in case the vehicle was sold.
But when she arrived, Apps told her no deal was made and she could return home.
Apps then allowed Scott and Williams to take the truck for a drive, and he rode with them as they departed the parking lot of a Hardee's restaurant on Spring Street, where the meeting had taken place, according to Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon.
While they were crossing the Ravenel Bridge into Mount Pleasant, Apps, riding in the passenger seat, was shot in the head by Scott, according to Cannon. His body was dumped in woods near a power substation off Magrath Darby Boulevard.
Tanner said that Apps' mother was not initially concerned that she hadn't heard from her son after returning from Charleston, because he had been talking with the men for a while and because Apps planned to attend a concert Friday in Charleston.
But Tanner said the Sheriff's Office began looking for Apps after receiving a call Friday from a third party, whom he did not identify, who was concerned about his whereabouts.
When Apps' mother learned of the activity on her son's debit card and was unable to reach him, she thought he might have been in danger, Tanner said.
Apps' family members would not comment Wednesday when reached at their home on St. Helena Island.
Investigators contacted Scott early in the investigation. Phone records indicated he was one of the last people to be in contact with Apps, and Scott told authorities he had purchased the truck from Apps.
Scott agreed to meet with investigators on Sunday afternoon and arrived at a predetermined spot in Jacksonboro, between Charleston and Beaufort, driving Apps' truck, according to the news release. Scott told authorities he had Apps' debit card, which was given to him as collateral until Apps could give him the title.
Scott said that after buying the truck, he dropped off Apps on Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant.
Beaufort County deputies allowed Scott to leave, but he agreed to meet with Charleston County investigators later in the day. He told them a similar story, the Post & Courier reported.
Beaufort County authorities contacted Charleston investigators and also worked to confirm activity on Apps' debit card. They noted purchases between Charleston and Beaufort counties, including two at fast-food restaurants in Bluffton and one at a shoe store in the Tanger Outlets.
Investigators then learned that Scott had come to Bluffton on Friday morning to visit several friends who are USCB students. Some of those friends confirmed being with Scott when the debit-card purchases were made, Tanner said.
After spending the weekend in Bluffton, Scott returned to Charleston, Tanner added.
Scott met again with Beaufort and Charleston authorities on Monday but began to change his story and implicated himself, according to Cannon. He then led them to the area where Apps' body was discovered, Cannon said.
Scott faces financial-card fraud charges in Beaufort County, and similar charges are expected to be filed in Hampton and Jasper counties, Tanner said.
RECALLING A FRIEND
As new details emerged Wednesday, some expressed outrage over Apps' death.
A Facebook page titled "Justice for Alex Apps" had close to 10,000 "likes" by 11 p.m. Wednesday, about eight hours after its creation Wednesday.
A description of the page declared: "Anything less than the death penalty is no justice at all!"
Friends and former teachers also recalled Apps' sense of humor and love of soccer.
"Putting together (a) photo gallery of him, there were so many pictures of him playing soccer," said Bethany Byrne, communications director at Beaufort Academy, where Apps attended school from first grade through high school graduation. "He was an amazing kid. This is just an absolute tragedy.
"It should not have happened."
Bill Dalton coached Apps on the Beaufort Academy and Blue Crab United soccer teams. Dalton said Apps' father helped him form the Blue Crab United club team several years ago, and that Apps' love for the game and the English soccer team Chelsea F.C. came from his late father, a native of England.
"He was a diehard English soccer fan, even before the games were carried on TV," Dalton recalled.
Dalton said his first year as a teacher at Beaufort Academy coincided with Apps' first year as a student. In addition to coaching him for years, he also taught him in several history classes.
"He was a very smart student and was naturally bright," Dalton said. "He did very well on his Advanced Placement history tests and always had an interest in that area."
Apps was between his freshman and sophomore years of high school in 2004 when his father, 57-year-old Bill Apps, was shot and killed by his brother-in-law, Thomas Beverly, over a land dispute in the driveway of Apps' Chelsea Plantation home.
Beverly pleaded guilty in 2006 and received a 30-year sentence.
Dalton said the tragedy was a "very tough time" for Apps, who was normally very outspoken.
"It's a cliche, but he really was the life of the party," Dalton said. "He was very witty and had a great sense of humor. He had an incredible amount of vitality and life to him, and it's a tragedy that his life has been cut short."
Beaufort County Sheriff PJ Tanner news conference, Oct. 9, 2013
From WCBD News 2 in Charleston: Sheriff's news conference, Oct. 8, 2013
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Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.