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On the dark grey slab of stone is the face of 36-year-old Ver’mon Steve with ‘I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it’ written below. It was a phrase he used to say as he greeted members of the parish.
“He was just the type of person where, no matter what a person was in the middle of, he was not the person who looked down on somebody,” Janice Steve, Ver’mon’s mother, said at her Varnville home. That was just his demeanor.”
Ver’mon is one of the 95 people murdered in Beaufort County from 2007 to 2016. With the exception of 2010, more homicides happened north of the Broad River than south and the number of minority victims has steadily risen to dominate each year.
From 2015 to 2016, 74 percent of those murdered have been black men like Ver’mon.
“Unfortunately, all we got back was a bag of bones,” Janice Steve said.
Ver’mon’s remains were found off Pea Patch Lane on St. Helena Island on Nov. 18, 2015 after he disappeared from his Green Street home on Oct. 25. That year is the deadliest year on record for homicides in the county with 20 victims, according to data provided by the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office
On the day of his disappearance, an acquaintance of Ver’mon’s went to the Greene Street home to meet with him. Ver’mon was not there.
When he arrived, the acquaintance was allegedly tied up and held at gunpoint by Varsheen Antuan Smith, 40, and Tyrone Wallace, 22. Smith, Steve’s roommate, and Wallace allegedly threatened him with a gun before deciding to let him go, according to the Beaufort Police Department.
Once the acquaintance left the house, he called Janice.
“He called and his words were, ‘Miss Steve, Ver’mon is missing, and I think something bad has happened,’” Janice said.
Smith and Wallace left the county after the acquaintance was held at gunpoint. Smith was later arrested on Nov. 5 in Hall County, Ga. Wallace turned himself in to the Beaufort Police Department on Nov. 16.
In April of 2016, Tayquan Lampkin, 21, surrendered at the Beaufort county Law Enforcement Center and was charged with accessory after the fact of murder related to Steve’s death.
“It’s one thing when they die because of a sickness that could not be avoided,” Janice Steve said. “But when you take somebody from a family, you take a part of that family.”‘The shoe could have been on the other foot’