A former Durham couple was shot and killed inside a Myrtle Beach hotel room over the weekend, and their son and a teenager have been charged with murder.
Carrie Daley Turner, 52, and Steven Gray Turner, 61, who recently moved from Durham to Roxboro, died from gunshot wounds at the Landmark Resort, at 1501 S. Ocean Blvd., on Friday, according to Horry County chief deputy coroner Tamara Willard.
On Monday, police charged their son, Alexander Gray Turner, 23, and Chelsi Lelia Griffin, 19, each with two counts of murder, Myrtle Beach police Lt. Joey Crosby said.
“They were fine people, fine people,” said Dickie Smith, who worked for the Turners at the Mayo Marina Mart in Roxboro. The Turners sold the business last summer, Smith said.
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“They wanted to sell all they had and move to the beach,” he said.
Angela Woods Hall of Roxboro, a family friend, recalled the Turners as generous and helpful people, “always involved with their kids with sports.
“Now it saddens me to know I will never see their smiling faces,” Hall said.
The Turners’ Durham home, at 6 Maere Court, burned in September. No one was home, and two dogs were rescued.
Maere Court neighbors declined to comment about the family Monday.
Since the fire, the Turners had been living at a vacation home on Mayo Lake in Person County, Smith said.
“(Carrie Turner) was a wonderful, wonderful lady,” he said. “I thought the world of her and her husband, both.”
Alexander Turner also is charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the death of his parents, who were found about 1 p.m. Friday in the hotel room.
His bond was set at $50,000 for the weapons charge in a hearing Monday afternoon. A circuit court judge must set the bond on the two murder charges.
Turner told Judge Jennifer Wilson he’s been living in Horry County for about three months and that he originally came to the area for a PTSD rehabilitation clinic through the Wilmington Treatment Center. He graduated from the program recently, Turner said, and moved in with Griffin, originally from Virginia, at the Cove apartments near Coastal Carolina University.
Prior to living with Griffin, Turner said he was living in a halfway house in North Myrtle Beach.
Turner said he was unemployed and requested a public defender.
When Wilson asked if he had any questions about bond, Turner told the judge, “I have the evidence to show my innocence in this whole case.”
Gun, weapons charges
A few days before his parents were found dead, the younger Turner was charged in Myrtle Beach with unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also had been due in court Monday in Roxboro on charges of breaking and entering, larceny and obtaining property by false pretenses stemming from an incident in October. He entered a guilty plea to a 2009 breaking and entering charge in Durham, according to court records. That same year, he was found guilty of driving with his license revoked.
In the affidavit filed with the murder charges, Myrtle Beach police said they learned that Alexander Turner and Griffin had been at the hotel and had tried to extend the stay of the room, but it was denied by hotel staff. Soon after, the two were seen leaving the hotel in Turner’s parents’ vehicle, a 2015 Kia Optima.
Police also learned that credit cards belonging to Turner’s parents were used Friday after their bodies were discovered in the room, according to the affidavit.
Griffin also was arrested Wednesday and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana, according to Horry County’s Public Index. Surfside Beach police filed those charges against Turner and Griffin.
In a report from Surfside Beach police, an officer said he saw a vehicle sitting next to a gas station, with two people inside who “appeared to be lost; they were talking and pointing in a manner that appeared to be a discussion about the direction of travel.”
The officer went up to the vehicle and smelled a “very strong odor of marijuana” and asked the driver, Griffin, to get out of the car, a green Toyota Corolla, according to the report. Officers ordered Turner, who was a passenger, out of the vehicle and saw an AR-15 on the rear floor of the vehicle and a Keltec 9 mm handgun near the radio in “plain view.”
Myrtle Beach police, in the murder affidavit, said that Turner and Griffin had five guns but only two were recovered during the arrest on Wednesday.
Officers found drug paraphernalia in the vehicle and marijuana on Griffin, according to the report. In addition, Griffin’s driver’s license had been suspended in Virginia.
Alexander Turner was booked into the Surfside Beach jail at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday and released at 5:10 p.m. that day on $3,592.50 bail.
Turner and Griffin were taken into Myrtle Beach police custody Saturday night along with two others after officers served a search warrant at Monarch Apartments near Coastal Carolina, Crosby said Sunday.
Grant Anthony Dollens, 20, of Columbia, and Roxanna Lisa Cumpan, 18, of Pottstown, Penn., are each charged with accessory after the fact in the slayings. Cumpan also is charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Both Dollens and Cumpan remained jailed Monday at the detention center, pending a bond hearing.
Dollens was previously arrested on Feb. 28 and charged with disorderly conduct and released the next day on $455 bail, according to jail records.
Dollens and Griffin are enrolled as students at Coastal Carolina, said Martha Hunn, a CCU spokeswoman. Myrtle Beach Sun News staff writers Tonya Root and Maya T. Prabhu contributed.