Howard named a 'person of interest' in 2 other cases

BEAUFORT -- A 36-year-old St. Helena Island man set to serve six life sentences without parole in state prison for rape, kidnapping, carjacking and armed robbery might be responsible for at least two other sexual assaults in downtown Beaufort in 2006, according to Beaufort police.

Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy has targeted Alfonzo Howard as a "person of interest," saying Howard might have been involved in two attacks downtown in late April and early May 2006, including the abduction, robbery and rape of a downtown employee on May 11, 2006.

That night, the employee told police a man abducted her from the BB&T parking lot at gunpoint, forced her to withdraw cash from an ATM and then took her to a third location, where he raped her before driving off in her car.

Howard was convicted two weeks ago of attacking a Tennessee couple at gunpoint on May 26, 2006, from the same BB&T parking lot, robbing them of $900 in cash they were forced to withdraw from an ATM on Lady's Island and sexually assaulting the woman near the football stadium at Beaufort High School. Howard was arrested that night and remained in the Beaufort County Detention Center until his trial last month.

Clancy said investigators still are gathering evidence and haven't charged Howard or anyone else with the attacks, but said Howard has been named as a possible suspect.

"At this point, there is not enough evidence to charge anyone in connection with those particular cases, but they are open and ongoing," he said. "Without getting into specifics which might compromise a prosecution ... (Howard) is a person of interest in other cases."

Howard was released from the detention center on March 3 into the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections, according to the county's jail log.

Howard was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen to six life sentences without parole on the final night of his week-long trial.

His co-defendant in the case, Lorenzo

Hicks, 28, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for carjacking, kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. His sentence was part of a deal struck with prosecutors before Howard's trial. Hicks was released into state custody March 5, according to the jail log.