The investigation into the murder of Deputy Sheriff Horace Nevada has again taken a turn. As of our last report it was believed that convicted serial killer Ronald Wayne Lowery had taken the life of Deputy Nevada, even though the murder did not fit Lowery’s modus operandi in which all the victims were women and each body was burnt before burial – Deputy Nevada’s body was discovered in a freezer in a shed on property recently purchased in Acadia, South Carolina.
During the forensic examination of the shed and its contents the investigative team discovered fingerprints belonging to serial killer Lowery. They also recovered prints that matched Arnold Gardener, a man with a conviction for robbery, now on parole. Mr. Gardener was no longer considered a suspect when it was discovered he worked at a Pick and Haul Scrapyard where, it is believed, the materials to build the metal shed were purchased. However, Mr Gardener did state that Ronald Wayne Lowery worked at the savage yard under an alias around the time Deputy Nevada went missing and he was dating a woman named Linda Leeds who might have more information.
When a records search to locate Ms. Leeds revealed her last known residence, Sheriff Ozell Keith stated, “I do not believe it is a coincidence that the last place Ms. Leeds lived was on property adjacent to the property where Deputy Nevada’s body was discovered.”
The authorities interviewed Martha Leeds, Ms. Leeds mother. They also re-interviewed the property owner Ada Secrat, Ms. Leeds previous landlord. After comparing their statements, the authorities came to a horrifying conclusion – something dreadful had happened to Linda Leeds. With the use of ground-penetrating radar and recovery dogs the body of a woman was discovered on the property owned by Ada Secrat, less than 20 feet from the location where Deputy Nevada’s body was found on the Inker property. The woman was positively identified as Linda Leeds.
“The body had been burnt prior to burial,” confirmed Detective Winston Spaulding. “That is consistent with the modus operandi of serial killer Lowery and she is within the same age range as all his previous known victims.”
Based on the discovery of Ms. Leeds it seemed the authorities were certain that Lowery killed Deputy Nevada, the only question that remained was why.
Things changed quickly in the investigation when two new bits of information were revealed.
First, the autopsy determined Ms. Leeds died within three and a half months after her last conversation with her mother. That conversation took place in March, 2011. However, it is believed that Mr. Lowery was living in Texas at the time of her death. He is awaiting trial for three murders in Texas. According to the timeline of the thirteen murders he is believed to have committed, he killed only in one state at a time and then moved on.
Secondly, Alberta Fleese walked into the police station and asked to speak to anyone involved in the Leeds case. Ms. Fleese was a personal friend of Ms. Leeds and insisted that for two years prior to her disappearance she was living with a man Ms Fleese only met once, but she is certain was not serial killer Ronald Wayne Lowery. Although she could not positively identify anyone from an array of photos provided by the authorities, her description of Ms. Leeds boyfriend sounded a lot like Arnold Gardener. In light of Ms. Fleese’s statement the authorities re-evaluated their evidence. Besides the method of disposal of Ms. Leeds body, the only thing linking Mr. Lowery to Ms. Leeds and Detective Nevada were statements made by Arnold Gardener.
When the authorities went to question Mr. Gardener again, they discovered he had disappeared.
As if finding a connection between these two murders wasn’t enough of a challenge, the authorities remained convinced the death of Melissa Tom has something to do with the killing of Deputy Nevada.Ms. Tom disappeared on the same day Deputy Nevada went missing. According to a co-worker, Ms. Tom was going to use her lunch hour to return an item to a local department store and never returned back to work. There were no images of Ms. Tom on the tapes made by the store’s security system and it is assumed she was taken on route to the store. After her body was discovered burnt in a shallow grave, she was linked to the then unnamed serial killer – later identified as Ronald Wayne Lowery.