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Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 18, 2024 ·  3 min read

CAUGHT DEAD-HANDED: Murder case solves itself after man dies burying victim in bizarre twist of fate

Sometimes, karma takes time to come around. Others, the turnaround is much shorter. This is what happened to 60-year-old Joseph McKinnon of South Carolina. Upon finishing burying his girlfriend who he had strangled to death in his backyard, he had a heart attack and died himself.

A Man Died Of A Heart Attack While Burying His Girlfriend, Who He Murdered, In His Backyard

Last Saturday, the neighbors of Joseph McKinnon called the police to come to the house. This is because they saw him lying unresponsive in his backyard. Upon arrival, emergency responders tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful. They determined that the 60-year-old died of a heart attack. (1)

They noted what seemed to be a fresh mound of dirt nearby and a shovel, but didn’t think much of it. Inside his home, they found the wallet of 65-year-old Patricia Dent. Though they suspected McKinnon’s heart attack was due to natural causes, they immediately suspected Dent’s disappearance. 

A Strange Disappearance 

The golf course where she worked confirmed that she had not come in for her shift that day. She also hadn’t called or messaged anyone as to why. The neighbors confirmed that they had seen McKinnon digging a hole the day before. They decided to investigate the fresh mound a little further. That’s when they found Dent’s body bound and wrapped in trash bags, buried in the dirt. The coroner confirmed that her death was via strangulation. The investigators then put two and two together.

“Evidence gathered at the scene, along with statements from witnesses aided investigators to build a timeline, leading us to believe that Mr. McKinnon attacked Ms. Dent while inside their home,”  Sheriff Jody Rowland and Coroner David Burnett of Edgefield County said in a joint statement. “Mr. McKinnon then bound her and wrapped her in trash bags before putting her in the previously dug pit. The pit was then partially filled in by Mr. McKinnon. While covering the pit, Mr. McKinnon had the cardiac event, causing his death.” (2)

Read: Parents of Woman Found ‘Melted’ to Sofa Indicted on Murder Charges

A Family In Mourning

Pamela Briggs, Dent’s twin sister, is shocked and devastated. It was something she never saw coming. Her sister’s manager at the golf course called Briggs to find out if she knew where her sister was.

“She wanted to know if I knew where my sister was, and I said, ‘No I have no idea,’ and then it just started to play out from there,” Briggs recalled. “I would say a nightmare, and I want to wake up, and it’s a dream. I know it’s not. This is reality and life, and a big part of me is gone, and now I’m going to have to live with that,” (3)

Briggs described her late sister as someone full of life and love. She had plenty of friends and was a bright light of a human being.

“Everybody who ever met her liked her. She was just full of energy. She was 65 and working,” Briggs said.

Briggs has not said anything about McKinnon or what kind of relationship she had with her sister’s boyfriend. She also has not said anything about her sister’s relationship with her boyfriend and what the status of their relationship was like before he killed her and then died himself in the effort of covering it up.

Keep Reading: Man Uses Weed Vending Machine at Home, Made $2,000 Per Day for 4 Years. Then Gets Arrested


  1. South Carolina man dies of heart attack while burying girlfriend he killed, authorities say.” Fox News.  Louis Casiano. May 10,2022.
  2. A man died of a heart attack while burying a woman he killed, S.C. sheriff says.” NPR. Bill Chappell. May 11, 2022.
  3. ‘A big part of me is gone’: Twin shares shock over Trenton slaying.” WRDW. Will Rioux and Steve Byerly. May 11, 2022..