updated 9/3/2006 10:59:57 AM ET 2006-09-03T14:59:57

An angry mob fatally beat a man whom they mistakenly thought was involved in the disappearance of their friend, shortly before police arrested and charged another person in the crime.

Union County Sheriff’s deputies found Tony Lorin Blakeney at his home with serious injuries Friday. He later died at a hospital.

Ten men, ages 16 to 30, were charged with murder in the attack. They were being held without bond until an Oct. 4 court date.

“This is the worst beating attack I’ve ever seen,” Sheriff Eddie Cathey said.

Authorities said they don’t believe Blakeney was connected to the disappearance and death of Patrick Antwone McClendon.

About a dozen of McClendon’s friends and family members learned Friday that Blakeney found on his property a car that the missing man had used.

The group arrived at Blakeney’s home, accused him of complicity in McClendon’s disappearance, and began punching and kicking him, authorities said.

A Union County Sheriff’s detective responding to a 911 call from the home arrived to find a hostile crowd. When officers were finally secured the scene, they found Blakeney on the ground, seriously injured.

Investigators later charged Leonard Lomart Staton, 18, with murder and kidnapping in McClendon’s death. Stanton also provided information that led investigators to McClendon’s body in a wooded area next to the Blakeney residence.

Authorities believe McClendon had been dead for several days and that the killing did not occur on the Blakeney property. They recovered a small-caliber handgun believed to be the weapon used to kill McClendon.

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