In South Carolina, three Marion County Sheriff’s Office staff members have been recognized for their work alongside federal agencies in solving the tragic case of Mary Ann Elvington, an 80-year-old retired schoolteacher and mother who was murdered in 2021.
The members were recognized in a ceremony hosted by Sheriff Brian Wallace, where they were presented with certificates of appreciation.
Local law enforcement officials, including Marion County Sheriff’s Captain Aurelius Cribb, Detective Dewayne Rogers and victim advocate Tammy Erwin were acknowledged in the ceremony.
Elvington was tragically kidnapped and murdered on March 28, 2021, when Dominique Brand, a 31-year-old man from Marion, forced his way into her home in Nichols.
Federal prosecutors said that Brand drank a bottle of water and cooked frozen pizza at the residence of 80-year-old Mary Ann Elvington before abducting her.
Elvington was last seen near Highway 76 in Nichols.
According to investigators, Brand had forced Elvington to drive him to Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, with a shotgun pointed at her from the backseat.
Later that night, Brand took Elvington to a remote crossroads in Marion County, and shot and killed her behind an abandoned Zion grocery store. He then abandoned the vehicle behind a night club in Marion.
During the trial, U.S. Attorney Everett McMillan revealed that enough DNA evidence had been found in Elvington’s home and car connecting Brand to the murder.
McMillan also presented about eight witnesses on the first day of the trial, including police officers, FBI agents, members of the community and Elvington’s two adult children.
Margol Elvington, one of Elvington’s children, said she felt uneasy after visiting her mother’s home on Sunday, March 28, 2021.
She noticed things were out of place and felt that something was amiss. She also discovered a hole in the floor, suspected to be from a gunshot.
Margol recalled a phone conversation with her mother that heightened her concerns.
She heard her mother say, “Take a left,” and when questioned about it, her mother replied, “Myself.”
In response to Margol’s worries, her brothers, Hugh and Harold Elvington, were contacted. Harold used the OnStar system in their mother’s 2012 Buick, which could track her location.
During the call with OnStar, Elvington’s mother stated she didn’t know where she was exactly, saying: “I don’t know exactly where I am. I’m not far.”
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with federal and state agencies, launched a thorough investigation into crime, and discovered Elvington’s body the following night.
Brand, upon becoming a suspect, turned himself in to authorities on March 31, 2021.
In a bench trial held in September 2022, Brand was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death and using or carrying a firearm in relation to a violent crime.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Brand was subsequently sentenced to two life sentences plus 120 years for his actions.
In response to the sentencing, McMillan said she was pleased that some justice was brought to the family.
“You can choose your sins. But you can’t choose your consequences … And we see an opportunity to bring someone like Mr. Brand into the federal system and impose this type of penalty,” McMillan said.
During the sentencing hearing, several individuals, including Elvington’s family members, shared their heartfelt thoughts.
Elvington’s niece, Stacie Wheatley, described her aunt’s deep love for her family, while Pastor Reverend Stephen Viperman praised Elvington’s faith and devotion to her church.
Elvington’s daughter, Margol Elvington, referred to Brand as a “coward” and “the devil.”
Elvington’s son, Harold Elvington, told the judge that he forgives Brand and stressed the importance of letting go of anger and resentment.
Another child, Hugh Elvington, said he found solace in the belief that his mother was in a better place.
“What keeps us going is that our mama is in heaven. That’s what keeps us going.”
Following the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs described the crime as “senseless, tragic and irreversible.”
“We hope Ms. Elvington’s loved ones can find healing in knowing that justice has been served,” Boroughs said.
In a statement released on Facebook, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they were proud to stand with the Elvington family during the difficult time.
They also acknowledged the toll the case has taken on the community, and praised local law enforcement’s valuable assistance to the FBI in helping solve the case.
Sheriff Brian Wallace, reflecting on the case, stated on Facebook: “The horrific details of the kidnapping and murder of 80-year-old, retired school teacher, mother, and ‘Grammy’ Mary Ann Elvington will never leave us. It is our hope that the relationships built through this investigation and trial will serve other victims in the future.”