A teenager who had recently moved back home after breaking up with his live-in girlfriend is accused of gunning down and killing four family members, stunning friends and neighbors.
Nathaniel Dickson, 18, was arrested Saturday night at a home in Belton about 20 miles from where the bodies of his father, stepmother, stepsister and younger brother were found, authorities said.
Those who knew Dickson grappled with how the quiet teen who loved video games and sports now was charged with four counts of murder.
"I can't put my finger on what happened," said Melissa Funk, whose 16-year-old son, Robbie, was good friends with both the suspect and the youngest victim. "It's not what I've known him to be."
Authorities would not talk a possible motive.
"I'm going to have this case tried in the courtroom, not out on the streets," Sheriff David Crenshaw said Sunday.
Dickson's father was found shot early Saturday in the yard of his one-story house in a wooded neighborhood just outside of Easley.
Samuel Andrew Dickson Jr., 46, died as paramedics arrived. Officers then went inside and found the bodies of his wife, Martiza Hurtado Dickson, 46; Melissa Giliam Salazar, 19; and Taylor Dickson, 14. All had been shot to death.
Taylor was found behind a clothes dryer where he was apparently trying to hide when slain. Authorities refuse to say how many times the victims were shot or release other details.
Dickson is the only suspect, and more charges could be filed against him, the sheriff said. Crenshaw said he does not think the teen has an attorney.
Dickson graduated from high school last year and moved in with his girlfriend, working a series of fast-food and restaurant jobs. The two broke up, and Dickson moved back in with his parents about two weeks ago, said Funk, who wasn't sure whether he had a current job.
Neighbors said the family was quiet and kept to itself. Joyce Allen's husband worked with Samuel Dickson, who went by Andy. The elder Dickson was an electrician with Vulcan Materials, a company that provides sand, gravel and crushed stone for construction.
Dickson didn't say much at work, keeping to himself. Most of Allen's memories are of him with his sons.
"He was crazy, crazy, crazy about those kids," Allen said. "I'd see him running up and down the road, taking them to ball games."
Taylor Dickson had just made one of the junior varsity baseball teams at Wren High School.
Neighbors said Martiza Dickson was a native of Colombia and worked as a translator. Melissa Salazar was attending a nearby technical college, Funk said.