A South Carolina man accused of killing his wife apparently suffered a fatal heart attack while trying to bury her body, according to authorities.
Deputies from the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in Trenton on Saturday to investigate reports of “an unresponsive male lying in his yard,” Sheriff Jody Rowland said in a news release. When they arrived at the scene, they discovered 60-year-old Joseph McKinnon lying on the ground near a newly dug well.
Medical teams were called in and tried to revive him, but to no avail. McKinnon was pronounced dead at the scene, WJBF reported.
Searching the property further, deputies discovered a second body, partially buried and not far from where McKinnon dropped it in his backyard. The remains were identified as Patricia Dent, 65, who also lived in the house.
According to a coroner’s report obtained by WJBF on Monday, McKinnon died of natural causes, specifically cardiac arrest, while Dent’s cause of death was listed as strangulation.
Upon further investigation, officers suspect that Dent was the victim of foul play by her husband. Based on evidence gathered at her home, it appears that McKinnon killed her wife and then tied her up and wrapped her in garbage bags before putting her in a previously dug pit.
He covered about half before suffering a fatal heart attack, police said.