updated 7/10/2006 10:49:58 PM ET 2006-07-11T02:49:58

Two white men suspected of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old black girl and a black woman appear to have targeted victims because of their race, officials said Monday.

Dustin L. Evans, 21, and Jeremy Shaw Sweat, 24, have been charged with kidnapping, sexual misconduct and assault with intent to kill the teenager on July 3. They will also be charged with sexually assaulting a 45-year-old woman on June 20, said Joe Bradham, chief deputy in Clarendon County.

“Over the weekend we’ve had others come to us saying they were approached but did not go with them,” Bradham said Monday. “All four of those women were black.”

The girl told deputies two men offered her a ride but took her to a home and repeatedly raped her, authorities said.

The victim said the men then told her to get in the shower and began stabbing her, deputies said. She fell into the tub and played dead.

As she was lying in the tub, she said, she overheard the men talk about getting trash bags and dumping her body in a lake, deputies said.

When the men left, the girl ran next door for help, authorities said. She has been released from the hospital.

The 45-year-old woman also said the men offered her a ride home, then took her to a home and raped her, authorities said.

Evans was arrested Thursday and Sweat was arrested July 3. They are being held without bail at the Clarendon County jail.

Ties to Ku Klux Klan?
Investigators have obtained letters written by Sweat in which he claims to be linked with the Ku Klux Klan, Bradham said.

A counselor at a behavioral facility in Louisiana, where Sweat received treatment as a teen, also wrote that Sweat talked about involvement with the Klan, Bradham said.

Investigators haven’t found any information to connect Evans to white supremacist groups, Bradham said. Evans’ wife, Crystal, said Monday that her husband is not a racist.

Sweat’s last known address has an unpublished phone number.

Deputies are investigating the case against the 15-year-old girl as a hate crime, Bradham said.

The state attorney general’s office cannot prosecute cases as hate crimes because South Carolina law does not address them, but federal law does. A call to the U.S. attorney’s office was not immediately returned Monday.

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