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The Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office received a call earlier in the week Sept. 10 of a pile of trash on the road near Brewer’s Scrap Iron. Noted to be in the rubble was a broken windshield and a baby’s safety seat. Concerns were that the site could have been the scene of wreck, but upon responding, investigators found that not to be the case. Instead, a single piece of paper found at the incident turned this trash pile site into a crime scene.
Amid the refuse, investigators found a vehicle registration card. When investigators ran the information on the card, it was identified as belonging to a vehicle that had been reported stolen. Since the pile of rubbish was found in such close proximity to a scrap iron business, the investigation naturally proceeded there.
At Brewer’s, a vehicle with a missing windshield that matched the description of the stolen vehicle was found. It was soon discovered that this vehicle’s vin plates did not match. The vin plate on the dash (the only one required to be checked when a vehicle is brought to a metal recycling center) had been replaced with a false plate. The vehicle was ultimately determined to be the one reported stolen. Further investigation revealed that this was not the only vehicle at Brewer’s to have had its vin plate replaced. Two other such vehicles were found, but only one of those had been reported stolen. Additional investigating led to the identity of a suspect who is believed to have been the person who brought all three vehicles to Brewer’s to be scrapped.
The ECSO has charged Willie Holden, 33, of Augusta with 3 felony counts of selling a vehicle with altered vin numbers and 2 counts of possession of stolen goods. Mr. Holden does have an extensive criminal history. Additionally, Georgia law enforcement officials have been notified of Mr. Holden’s charges, and he may yet face additional charges there.
The ECSO was quick to point out that Brewer’s will not face any charges in this investigation as they did nothing wrong in receiving the cars. According to the ECSO, Brewer’s followed all legal procedures regarding the purchasing of the vehicles. An investigator with this case said that Brewer’s was “very helpful in the whole investigation” and commented how in the past, the scrap iron business has been quick to notify law enforcement if they had any suspicions regarding any items being brought to them.
In fact, it was Brewer’s who ultimately helped capture Holden. On Friday, Sept. 14, Holden returned to Brewer’s with yet 2 more vehicles to sell. Brewer’s immediately notified the ECSO, and Holden was apprehended. With Holden at the time of his arrest was Gary Haynes of Augusta. Haynes, too, was arrested on 1 count of selling a vehicle with an altered vin plate. Both are currently being held in the Edgefield County jail. This investigation is on-going and more charges may follow.