Husband and wife accused of killing, dismembering teen at Lancaster home

Holford (Lancaster County Sheriff's Office)
Holford (Lancaster County Sheriff's Office)
Duncan (Lancaster County Sheriff's Office)
Duncan (Lancaster County Sheriff's Office)
Steele (Source: Family)
Steele (Source: Family)
(Kristi O'Connnor/WBTV)
(Kristi O'Connnor/WBTV)
(John Sparks/WBTV)
(John Sparks/WBTV)

LANCASTER, SC (WBTV) - A husband and wife were arrested in connection with a homicide investigation that began after human remains were discovered in Lancaster Thursday morning.

Deputies from the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office found the remains while searching two homes in the 1800 block of High Point Circle after someone called in stating a crime may have occurred. Police identified the victim as 18-year-old Austin Tyler Steele.

Christopher Holford and Brandy Duncan were both arrested and charged in the case on Friday. Officials say Holford is charged with murder and Duncan is charged with accessory. The couple was married in Feb.

Investigators said they believe Holford shot Steele in the neck on the property several weeks ago. Steele reportedly lived into the night but died the next morning.

Deputies say Holford then dismembered Steele and concealed the body around the property.

"A human torso absent limbs was found buried on the property. A human skull was found outside. Bones were found in a burn barrel. Bones were found in a box under the mobile home. A revolver was found in the main house.  An axe, a broken sword, and knives were found in the mobile home," a press release stated.

Sheriff Barry Faile spoke about the gruesome crime Friday afternoon.

"I would never imagine that we would find or have someone living in Lancaster County capable of doing these kind of things. I just wouldn't believe it. Probably one of the worst cases I've experienced in my 28 years," said Faile.

The sheriff said he has spoken with family members of Steele.

"You can only imagine what they are going through. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and certainly we want to do all we can to bring some closure for them," said the sheriff.

The person who reported the crime told deputies she was informed by another person that a homicide had occurred at the residence on an unknown date several weeks ago.

Another deputy arrived to assist, and additional information was obtained indicating that the victim's body was disposed of at the home.

Other deputies, investigators, and crime scene investigators responded and corroborated information that had been provided.  A search warrant was obtained for the property.

Animal control was seen leaving the scene, as there were apparently eight dogs in the home deputies were looking through.

According to Faile, a suspect was in custody on unrelated charges Thursday evening, and deputies do not believe the public is in danger.

Deputies held a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon to provide more details.

Jillian Yarbrough, one of Steele's extended family members, spoke about the teen Friday afternoon.

"We love you and we're gonna miss you and we're sorry we wasn't there," said Yarbrough.

She said she doesn't know much about the two suspects charged in connection to Steele's death but thinks Steele and Holford may have both been in relationships with Duncan. All three were living together.

"They've got to be some sort of evil monsters to take his life and then treat his remains as if they were garbage," said Yarbrough.

She said she and other family members will be holding a vigil Saturday at 6 p.m. at the site where Steele lost his life. Family members said Steele suffered from some form of autism. 

Anyone with information about this or any other case should call the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office at 803-283-3388 or contact Midlands Crimestoppers in one at 888-274-6372.

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