Edgefield County man dies of heart attack while burying woman in his garden

TRENTON, SC (WJBF) – The Edgefield County Sheriff says evidence shows Joseph McKinnon strangled Patricia Dent inside the house and buried her in the backyard when he died of ‘a heart attack.

Officials say they first discovered the body of Joseph McKinnon, before finding Dent’s body in a backyard grave.

Neighbors in Trenton, South Carolina are left with many questions after Edgefield County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Tanglewood drive on Saturday and discovered the two bodies.

Dawn Howanietz, who lives a block from where the bodies were discovered, says she and her family have only lived in the area for two years.

She says she was worried and didn’t know there was danger to neighbors after the bodies were found.

“We have no idea – and that’s what we’re asking… at least let us know that it’s something they control or they don’t. Do we have to make sure that everything is closed, watch our dogs or our animals? We also have a farmer there. You know, it’s scary. said Howanietz.

Below is the full statement from Edgefield County Sheriff Jody Rowland and Edgefield County Coroner David Burnett:

“On Saturday morning, deputies along with the Edgefield County Coroner’s Office and the Edgefield County Emergency Department responded to 102 Tanglewood Drive in Trenton, South Carolina at the call of a man insensitive lying in his yard.

Joseph Anthony McKinnon, 60, of the same address, was found dead in his yard. Mr McKinnon showed no signs of trauma and natural causes were suspected.

While investigating the death and making notifications to next of kin, a second body was found in a freshly dug grave. Patricia Ruth Dent, 65, of the same address, appears to have died of foul play.

On Monday autopsies were carried out on both bodies and Mr McKinnon’s cause of death was confirmed to be a cardiac event. Ms. Dent was found to have died of strangulation.

Evidence gathered at the scene along with witness statements helped investigators establish a timeline, leading us to believe that Mr. McKinnon attacked Ms. Dent while inside their home.

Mr McKinnon then tied her up and wrapped her in bin bags before putting her in the previously dug pit. The pit was then partially filled in by Mr. McKinnon. While covering the pit, Mr McKinnon had the cardiac event, causing his death.


Authorities say they will continue to investigate.


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