updated 9/4/2006 12:31:47 PM ET 2006-09-04T16:31:47

Two fast-food workers were found shot to death after their restaurant failed to open on time, and a fellow employee was arrested Monday and charged with murder and armed robbery.

Authorities said they believe John Henry Portee, Jr., 27, intended to rob the Wendy’s restaurant, said Richland County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Chris Cowan.

Portee was arrested around 2 a.m. Monday, almost a day after the two women were shot to death while preparing to open the restaurant at Columbia Place Mall, Cowan said.

The restaurant’s manager found the bodies of Carlaus Eugenia Johnson, 53, and Latora Michelle Bolton, 29, in a back room of the restaurant later Sunday, authorities said.

Interviews with other restaurant employees led to the arrest of Portee, who had also been scheduled to work Sunday, Cowan said. Ballistics experts were able to match shell casings and bullets at the scene to a gun found with Portee when he was arrested.

Portee was being held in the Richland County jail Monday pending a bond hearing.

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