Beaufort News

Man’s body discovered in Whale Branch creek

Richard Heyward
Richard Heyward Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office

A man’s body was found Wednesday in a creek off the Whale Branch River wearing clothes similar to those of a Seabrook man who has been missing since Friday.

Richard Heyward, 67, left a Detour Road home about 9 a.m. Friday. He had been living at the home with his son’s family, his sister said Wednesday.

A fisherman found the body just before noon on Wednesday and reported it to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which notified the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, a Sheriff’s Office news release said. A forensic autopsy will be done at Medical University of South Carolina to determine a cause of death and the man’s identity, the release said.

Heyward had left home Friday after an apparent argument, his sister said.

“He didn’t even take his bank card,” Ethel Boson, Heyward’s sister, said Wednesday before the news that a body was found. “He never ever leaves home without that bank card in his pocket.”

The Sheriff’s Office used a helicopter during its initial search, and Boson said said dogs were also deployed to track Heyward.

Heyward has serious health issues and is on a number of medications, Boson said.

He began showing signs of dementia within the past three months, his sister said. He has diabetes, high blood pressure and has monthly doctor visits for his kidneys.

He was hospitalized last month, Boson said.

The children cared for him, and he cared for them. That was his lifeline, those three grandchildren.

Ethel Boson, Richard Heyward’s sister

Boson was her brother’s caregiver for three years, but about a year ago he moved in with his son’s family in Seabrook, she said. There, his three grandchildren have helped care for him.

“The children cared for him, and he cared for them,” Boson said. “That was his lifeline, those three grandchildren.”

Boson and others involved in the search blanketed the area with fliers, went door-to-door looking for information on Detour Road and ensured Heyward’s name and face reached television stations from Savannah to Charleston.

With the search in its sixth day on Wednesday, Heyward’s sister struggled with where else to turn before news that a body had been discovered.

Heyward worked at Naval Hospital Beaufort more than 30 years before his retirement. He cooked, worked on the grounds and chauffeured enlisted personnel, Boson said.

He lived in the Beaufort area all of his life. Before moving to Seabrook, he lived near Beaufort National Cemetery.

He had been a regular at a weekly program for senior citizens at the Salvation Army of the Lowcountry.

The program offered bingo, breakfast and Bible study. A weekly speaker often addresses the group.

Heyward had attended the meetings for years, said Amber Hewitt with the Salvation Army. During the summer, he would bring his grandchildren to join him for breakfast.

“He’s a really nice man. He’s really sweet,” she said.

Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen