Jul. 7—The body found on the 500 block of Harbor Drive in Aiken is confirmed to be 29-year-old Jhaz Allison, who was kidnapped at gunpoint on June 24.
The Aiken County Coroner confirmed the identity of the body on Wednesday after an autopsy in Newberry.
"DNA testing has confirmed the body found buried in a wooded area in the 500 block of Harbor Drive, Aiken, was 29-year-old Jhaz Allison of Aiken. The cause of death remains under investigation," said Aiken County Coroner Darryl M. Ables.
On June 29, police asked the public for assistance in finding Allison, who was kidnapped at gunpoint at a gas station in Aiken on June 24. On the same day, the body was discovered.
Dahkir "Doc" Anderson, Austin Martin and Sharla Hamilton were arrested June 25 and charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, possession of weapon during a violent crime, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine, possession of ecstasy, trafficking methamphetamine, possession of schedule II pills and unlawful carrying of a pistol, according to the report.
On Tuesday, two of the suspects, Anderson, 21, and Martin, 21, who were previously charged with attempted murder, were charged with murder and destruction, desecration or removal of human remains.
Hamilton is no longer charged with attempted murder, but has been placed under home detention for the drug charges and unlawful carrying of a pistol, according to Capt. Eric Abdullah.
The solicitor said Hamilton does not have any pending charges.
According to Martin's arrest warrant, the suspects "did, with malice aforethought, cause the death of the victim, by beating the victim in the face repeatedly with firearms/hands/feet which contributed to his death," according to the warrant.
The warrant also detailed the removal of human remains charge.
The two suspects are accused of destroying and damaging the remains of the victim, who was deceased. The suspects "burned the victim's body and buried him," according to the warrant.
Friends knew 'he was murdered'
The Williams family, close friends of Allison, said Allison's family believed the body was his before police announced the DNA results Wednesday.
On Friday, Tony Williams, Allison's childhood basketball coach and family friend, said the family was making the assumption that the body was Allison's.
Tony's daughter, Lexy Williams, said "he was already found. He was murdered," days before the coroner released the positive identification.
Tony said his son Andrew met Allison through AAU basketball when the boys were 8 or 9 years old. From then on, he said Allison was like a son to him and like a brother to his children.
"[Jhaz] loved to play basketball, so we kind of took him in and mentored him through the majority of his teen years," Tony said. "He was always a kindhearted, loving, young man and very respectful, so that's why this is so difficult for all of us."
Tony added that Allison had big dreams. "He had dreams of being a veterinarian — he loved animals," Tony said.
Right before Allison's kidnapping, one of the suspects had asked Allison about the whereabouts of his dog, according to an incident report obtained from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.
After Allison told the suspect that the dog was at his father's house, guns were drawn and Allison was kidnapped, according to the report.
The solicitor confirmed that the dog has been located.
Allison's Facebook account says Allison studied at Bel-Rea Institute of Veterinary Technology.
"We didn't want the public to think that he was just another bad kid that got into some trouble," Tony said. "That doesn't really characterize him, and he certainly doesn't deserve what happened to him, if that's him."
Hanna Williams, daughter of Tony Williams and friend of Allison, said Allison always knew how to make everyone around him laugh.
"His jokes would just fill the room with joy and laughter," she said. "He would have you laughing till your cheeks hurt and your stomach grew abs."
Andrew Williams said Allison was always joking around with the family.
"Back when we used to go on AAU basketball trips and mom and dad would buy all of us breakfast biscuits for the road, Jhaz would purposely save his until everyone was hungry again and eat it in our faces just to be a jokester," Andrew said.
Tony's wife, Carla Williams, said she is heartbroken and grieving the loss of a great young man.
"He spent many days and nights, countless times with my family through the years," she said. "He was a special person... [He] never complained to take on the house chores and help out around the house [and] always showed up in time for dinner — he called me 'Ma' and always told me he loved me."
The investigation is still ongoing
Police were cautious about confirming the identity of the body recovered in Aiken. On Friday, Capt. Eric Abdullah from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office said the police did not want to speculate or infer.
"We only have one chance to get it right," he said. "With an ongoing investigation, we can't take the chance of speculating. Until we have positively identified that individual, I cannot ethically say one way or another who it is or what direction we're going, until the coroner has the opportunity to complete their process."
A third male suspect has not been identified or located yet, according to Abdullah.
Police said if anyone has any information that would lead to the suspect vehicle, possible suspects or video, they should contact the Aiken County Sheriff's Office at 803-648-6811.
Citizens can also provide information anonymously through Midlands CrimeStoppers. There are cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for any crime.
To submit a phone tip, call 1-888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372).