A 24-year-old man has been charged with murdering his friend in the South Carolina woods and leaving the decomposing body for local children to find.
David Adam Pate, whose intimidating mugshot has been widely shared online, is thought to have led his friend Ricky James into woodland close to the town of Lancaster sometime in October.
Detectives believe Pate subsequently killed the 33-year-old, covering his corpse with tree branches and fallen leaves. Mr James’ badly-decomposed body was found by schoolchildren playing in the woods over the weekend.
Officers say they immediately suspected Pate – who was already in custody as a result of a disorderly conduct charge two weeks ago – but were forced to wait for the results of an autopsy before they could charge him with murder. They admitted that they have not yet established a motive for the crime.
According to WBTV.com, Sheriff Barry Faile said: “Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr James. We are thankful that we were able to solve this case so quickly”.
He added: “Our investigators did a great job putting this case together. We suspected Pate almost immediately but had to wait on lab results to prove it. We are thankful he is in jail where he belongs.”
Following Pate’s arrest and the release of his police mugshot, a number of people took to social media to comment on the murder suspect’s menacing appearance.
Pate’s tongue appears to be surgically split in two resembling a snake, and his face is covered in amateurish tattoos - including the words ‘Satan’ above his right eyebrow, ‘fear’ on his right eyelid and the numbers ‘974’ on his throat. 974 is a number said to be strongly linked to the US-based street and prison gang Gangster Disciples.
In the mugshot, Pate pokes his tongue and appears to be smirking, while several other facial tattoos are visible.
In the centre of his forehead is an ‘S’ symbol that resembles the logo of the heavy metal band Slipknot, next to his left eye is a St George’s cross with two black teardrops, next to his right eye is a faded sun or spider symbol, and around his mouth there are more uncoloured teardrop tattoos.