Beaufort News

St. Helena Island man identified as murder victim

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office released the identity Tuesday of the man found dead in a burning car last week on St. Helena Island.

Joseph Frank Washington, 32, of St. Helena was killed by a gunshot wound to the head before the car was set on fire, according to Coroner Ed Allen. His body was discovered Thursday in the burning wreckage of a Buick sedan near Folly Road, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Investigators are examining possible connections between Washington's death and the fatal shooting Oct. 5 of Julius Edward Chaplin. A sheriff's spokeswoman said both men were "well-known" by area law enforcement.

Chaplin, 44, was found dead in his driveway after being shot twice in the head, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Robin McIntosh, sheriff's spokeswoman, said investigators had been awaiting the results of the autopsy, performed at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, but there is not enough evidence yet to establish a clear relationship between the two killings.

"As far as a definitive link, that will depend more on the results of evidence analysis than on the positive identification of the victim," McIntosh said.

No new information regarding possible suspects or a motive for either killing was released Tuesday by the Sheriff's Office.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at

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