CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WSPA)- The Greenville Police Department has confirmed that a letter is missing that could have major implications in a decades old murder case.
In 1975, Greenville County investigator Lt. Frank Looper and his father, Rufus Looper, were shot to death. The letter, uncovered in April of 2018, suggested that the sheriff at the time may have been involved in those murders and covered it up, according to Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller. Charles Wakefield Jr. was convicted for the murders but has maintained his innocence. He received parole in 2010 and is now living in Charlotte after 35 years in prison.
7 News sat down with him Thursday for what he said was his first TV interview.
Wakefield was 20-years-old when he was arrested in Greenville County for the murders of Looper and his father.
“Why would the people do that?” Wakefield said. “Why would the people go to such great lengths to put a person who was innocent? I could not understand it.”
He was originally sentenced to death by the electric chair, but he was saved by a Supreme Court ruling.
“I was trying to understand. [I] said, ‘Oh Lord, how did I get to be here? I wasn’t supposed to be here. But I was there. It was horrible,” he said.
More than four decades later, Wakefield has been on parole and living and working in Charlotte. He said he also paints.
“I’ll get in here, and I’ll do artsy stuff,” he said in his home studio.
In November, 7 News obtained recordings of Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller speaking at a public meeting, discussing a possible new piece of evidence in the Looper case: a letter found locked in an employee locker in the basement of the Law Enforcement Center.
Miller said the letter appeared to have been written by a mistress of the sheriff at the time, Cash Williams. Williams is no longer alive.
“We don’t know what that letter means, but there was a letter from one who said that he and some of his team members may have been involved in that murder and framed this individual,” Miller said in the recording.
The Greenville Police Department publicly announced Thursday that the case file containing the letter is missing.
Wakefield said he’s not surprised.
“When I really thought about it, it sort of seemed like business as usual,” he said.
Former local news reporter Brad Willis first reported the existence of the letter and its disappearance on his podcast, “Murder, etc.”
Earlier this week, 7 News filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of that letter and information on its whereabouts.
Thursday, police said they have searched all investigator workstations, case files and storage areas throughout the Law Enforcement Center but can’t find it.
Wakefield said he and the people of Greenville deserve better from their police department.
“It’s hard to understand that gravity of the case and the seriousness of the case,” Wakefield said. “How could that have happened? Not only is it not a good thing for me, but I think the people of Greenville.”
Police declined to say when they realized the letter went missing.
“The Greenville Police Department remains committed to making every effort to properly evaluate the information observed in the file folder, prior to its loss,” Sgt. Johnathan Bragg said in a press release.
On October 31, 2019, a firearm was submitted to a Greenville Police detective for evaluation in the case, according to the release.
“Due to the nature and importance of these matters, Chief Miller has requested [an] outside agency investigation into the loss of the file folder, assistance with the case review and a ballistics examination of the firearm. He commits GPD’s full support and cooperation in the process and in the interim, is reviewing and revising GPD security, access, and file protocols and controls for its Investigations Division,” Bragg said in the press release.
A spokesperson with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division confirmed Miller asked the agency Thursday for assistance in investigating the missing file.
A spokesperson with the FBI also confirmed to 7 News that the Greenville Police Department had requested the agency’s assistance in the matter but declined to comment further.
Read the full press release here: