Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright inherited the case when he took office two years later.
He worked closely with the families for years, but in the last few relations have been strained.
We talked to both the Sheriff and the family about where that rapport went wrong and how both sides are trying to mend it. We learned, while the cold case has not generated any new leads that we can report on, the family is hopeful the cold reception they say they’ve faced in the last few years is thawing out:
“He’s a good guy, Chuck has a big heart, he was very involved,” said Tom Lucas.
Lucas can recite a lot of stories about how Sheriff Wright put his heart into the Superbike Motorsports murder case, like the time he went up in a chopper to look for missing evidence based on a request from the lucas family after they talked to a psychic.
“I don’t believe in it, but I did anyway, I made an effort,” said Wright.
That was more than five years ago. Today the Lucas family, who lost their son Brian, and Terry Guy who lost his wife Beverly and stepson Scott Ponder, all say they hardly ever hear from the sheriff’s office anymore.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask maybe every 3 months or every 6 months, maybe twice a year just to call and say, look, we’re still looking into things,” said Guy.
The Sheriff says his office has had to pull back because of distractions like time-consuming calls and some of the family’s critical social media posts about his investigators.
“Is there a happy medium though between being a distraction and being informed and involved, because they are after all the victims family?
“Yes there is. You know if they’ll just simply play by the same rules that we like to play by… Which is copy the tips and we’ll come by and get them, you know if it’s something hotter that comes in we’ll go get it faster. But I’m telling you, they are being a distraction more than they are being a help,” said Wright.
In response to that, Mr. Lucas said “I can see where he’s coming from. I don’t think we call for no reason, but I do understand what they’re saying.”
Lucas said the relationship started to become strained around the 10th year anniversary when the Sheriff put out a wanted poster featuring the same suspect that has been the focus of the case for the past decade. Lucas said he grew concerned that the sheriff’s office was only focused on one theory and was not following other leads.
The Lucas family says even the little contact they’ve had since our first story aired two weeks ago has helped them feel more confident in how the case is going, and that the office is pursuing all leads.
But the family has also had to heal from what they call harsh words by some sheriff office employees.
“If somebody hurt Mrs. Lucas’ feelings I’m going to fix that,” said Wright.
The family wants to be cooperative. Guy says in 12 years, investigators have never interviewed him (though he has volunteered to take a lie detector test) He is hoping they will sit down with him, and revisit everyone else connected to the case.
“He never took me in and I lost 2 people that day, so what would make me think they’ve done everybody else,” said Guy.
Lucas says, it’s a goal to improve their relationship with the Sheriff’s office.
“I think in reality the sheriffs office is going to solve the case. They have responsibility for the case. I have a lot of respect for what they do, I know they have a tough job. But I would like to know that there’s a good two-way communication. I understand that you can’t get the information everyday and all that. But at times I think they have a responsibility to talk to all the families,” said Lucas.