Former Simpsonville Police Lieutenant George “Ralph” Bobo pleaded guilty Tuesday to statutory misconduct in office. Bobo was sentenced to 18 months probation and a $1,000 fine.
The charges stem from Bobo’s investigation into the 1984 rape and murder of Cassandra Johnson.
Bobo took over the cold case in 1997. Johnson’s mother and sister said the officer promised to use existing evidence to track down her killer.
In 2000, Bobo submitted semen samples left at the crime scene for analysis and, according to Bobo’s attorney Jim Bannister, the samples pointed to a man already serving time in North Carolina. Bobo said in court that he believed that man, Marion Gillespie, was the killer.
In 2002, Bobo now admits he went into the evidence locker, checked out a hair sample also taken from the crime scene, placed it in an envelope and threw it away. He said he was trying to prevent another man, the man who discovered the body, from also being named a suspect.
According to state prosecutors, Bobo’s crime came to light when he applied for a job with South Carolina’s state law enforcement division.
During the hiring process, Bobo told state investigators about the evidence he destroyed.
Johnson’s mother said after Bobo’s sentence that she felt the former officer destroyed any chance of tracking down her daughter’s killer by tampering with evidence.
“Justice didn’t prevail. He should have gotten some time,” Robbie Davis said.
“He didn’t solve it. You know, he protected who he wanted to protect,” Davis said.
Bannister said the sentence was fair because the destroyed hair evidence would not have led to the real killer.
Both the man Bobo suspected of the crime and the man he sought to protect have since died.
Bobo has resigned his commission as a law enforcement officer and agreed to never work as a police officer again.