Safford connected to brutal murders: ‘America's Most Wanted’ airs quadruple homicide - Eastern Arizona Courier: Safford News

Safford connected to brutal murders: ‘America's Most Wanted’ airs quadruple homicide

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Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:00 am

Melissa Player Ponder is still waiting. More than eight years ago, Melissa's husband, Scott Ponder, was gunned down at his motorbike shop in a quadruple homicide near Chesnee, S.C.

Melissa's sweetheart was murdered along with his mother, Beverly Guy, and two other employees and friends, Brian Lucas and Chris Sherbert.

Guy, 52, was close to her only son and had recently taken over office management.

A native of Safford, Melissa and her 7-year-old son, Scotty, are just as baffled by the crime as police, investigators and the community nearly eight years later.

Though it is technically a "cold case," it has gained national attention. As an unsolved mystery, it aired on “America's Most Wanted” on Friday, March 30, in hopes of finding the killer or killers.

"I was contacted by ‘America's Most Wanted’ about two months ago, and they were shocked that no one had picked up our story. There are very few unsolved quadruple homicides," Melissa said.

Detailed backgrounds and the most recent photographs of the victims, along with Melissa's favorite pictures of their wedding day, were aired on the show.

Just seven weeks pregnant on the day of the shootings, Melissa said she felt blessed to carry on the legacy of her husband and decided to name their child after him. Melissa gave birth to Scott Ponder Jr. in the same hospital where his father was born in South Carolina in June 2004.

"That was something that was very important to me," Ponder said.

Melissa and Scott Ponder were married almost three years and sealed for time and all eternity in the Columbia South Carolina Temple about a year before the shootings.

Scott was a fairly new member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had just baptized his mother, Beverly, into the faith.

He was an active member of the Sunday School presidency, and his mother served as secretary in the Relief Society at the time of the shootings.

"We'd had our first ultrasound on Tuesday, and Scott was killed two days later," Melissa said.

The crime occurred sometime between 2:50 and 4 p.m. on a Thursday and a friend, Noel Lee, discovered the bodies in the late afternoon. Lee was shocked to find not one, but four victims and immediately called 911. Taken aback by the scene in broad daylight, Lee first thought his lighthearted friends were playing a terrible prank on him. Melissa spoke to her husband via telephone at about 2 p.m., though it would be their last conversation.

The scene of the crime was Scott's business of seven years, Superbike Motorsports, just outside of Chesnee on Parris Bridge Road. The Ponders lived in a rural area in Spartanburg County. Close to a highly populated metropolitan area, the location of the shootings is only a few miles away from North Carolina.

Remembering that

terrible time

Dave and Kae Player of Safford received a frantic phone call from their oldest daughter, Melissa, in the early evening of Nov. 6., 2003. Melissa said there had been a major incident at her husband's business and left it at that.

A few hours later, she called again to tell them about the four-person homicide, which included her husband.

She also explained that robbery wasn't a motive since nothing was taken from the shop.

Melissa said Sheriff Bill Caffey of Spartanburg County was convinced from the start that the shootings were drug related. Caffey reportedly went on the news that night and told the public not to get in a frenzy because everything was "under control."

"Nothing was ever in control. When people asked me questions about the sheriff and how things were going in the case, I never really knew. People in the community and around the country were shocked by that," Melissa said.

Over the course of the investigation, the victims and their families were thoroughly investigated for drug, financial or relationship problems, but investigators found no motives or suspicious connections.

"The first thing everyone thinks is drugs or affairs, but none of that was going on. I told them that they could dive into our lives as much as they wanted, but they would never find anything like that," Melissa said.

One frustrating incident during the investigation was when blood work came back saying that Scotty Jr. was not Scott Ponder's son. In the end, it was discovered that someone had mislabeled and mixed up blood test results.

"That was very hard to go through," Melissa said.

Although the quadruple homicide appeared to be the worst possible outcome, things could have been much worse, according to Dave.

Melissa was supposed to have been at the shop at the time of the shootings, but happened to be returning from a Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce meeting with Brian Lucas' wife, Robin. Robin, a mother of two sons, ages 2 and 4, was also left a grieving widow that day.

Melissa's parents were grief-stricken by the incident. Dave said he loved his son-in-law very much but shared great concern that the perpetrator is still roaming free after such a gruesome crime.

Scott Ponder's mother left behind her husband of 17 years, Kristian Guy. Because Scott was a young teen when his mother and Kristian married, he was close to his stepson, who died at the age of 30. Scott's two murdered friends and co-workers were in their mid-20s.

"When these types of things happen, they are really a wake-up call," Dave said. "Because of our faith, we know they are with our Heavenly Father and are just fine. It's those of us that are left that have to deal with everyday living."

Few leads

According to “America's Most Wanted,” the only remaining lead on the case is a 40-year-old customer who was wearing a black leather jacket, although the weather that day was warm. The suspect was also the last man seen in the shop by a customer who left in the early afternoon.

The suspect perused the store awhile and then took interest in a black "crotch rocket." He eventually agreed to purchase the bike. The bike was moved to the garage and prepped for the sale, and Scott and Brian signed the paperwork. The buyer, however, did not sign and at some point, began shooting in the back of the store. Lucas and Ponder attempted to flee the premises but were later found deceased in the parking lot.

The suspected perpetrator is most likely Caucasian, about 6 feet tall with dark hair and between the ages of 20 and 40. He may have had some professional training in marksmanship since at least two of his victims were moving targets and there were very few missed shots. He shot each victim twice, once in the head and once in the chest. After the first shot, investigators say he returned to each one and shot them a second time in the head. The gunman most likely used a 9 mm handgun.

Because the motorbike shop did business via the Internet from coast to coast, the killer could be from anywhere in the United States. One theory is that the gunman was a hit man, according to “America's Most Wanted.”

The quadruple homicide also aired on “Geraldo” in 2006, and Rivera announced a $125,000 reward for individuals who prove useful in solving the crime. Anyone with information should call the Spartanburg County Police Department at 1-864-503-4608 or CrimeStoppers at 1-864-503-4502.

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2 comments:

  • william228 posted at 4:43 pm on Sat, Apr 21, 2012.

    william228 Posts: 1

    I have seen this episode twice on amw. I wonder if the suspect was seeing if they would sell him a bike out of his league.Maby his son or relative purshased a bike from them ,wrecked it and died.Perhaps you should check records of sales and fatal crashes at that approximate time ,or a year or two earlier .Just a thought.Our prayers are with you. william228

     
  • Ponderswife posted at 12:29 am on Wed, Apr 18, 2012.

    Ponderswife Posts: 1

    Thank you for the story,. I am appreciative. I have a correction to make. My mother-in-law was married to Terry Guy, not Kristian Guy. Kris is Terry's son from his first marriage. I just wanted to clarify that. Again, I am appreciative of your interest in this personal tragedy of mine.