South Carolina

He was the best man at an SC couple’s wedding before being found guilty of their murder

Firefighters found an Edgefield County couple executed and their bodies burning along with their dead pet dogs in a house, according to court testimony.

The hellish scene was described by a firefighter during a murder trial that started Oct. 7 and ended Thursday.

Deepening the brutality of the case, the man found guilty of crime was the best man at the couple’s wedding, according to the prosecution.

Dameion Edwin Thomas was found guilty for the murder of Andrea “Andie” Deas and her husband, Charles, also known as Buddy.

Thursday, Judge Frank Addy, Jr. sentenced 38-year-old Thomas to life in prison with no parole, court records show.

In October 2016, a neighbor called 911 after seeing the Deas’ home on Marigold Street in Edgefield County on fire, according to a statement by the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which prosecuted the case.

Firefighters found the body of Charles Deas on the bed and his wife on the bedroom floor, according to court testimony. Firefighters also found the barrel of a .22 caliber rifle in the remains of the mattress. Investigators determined that the house fire started when someone burned the couple’s bodies.

An autopsy concluded that the couple died from being shot in the head and chest prior to being burned. Medical examiners took bullets from their bodies. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division determined the bullets were .22 caliber.

Investigators with the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office discovered camera footage that showed Thomas driving the victims’ vehicle after they died, according to court testimony. Financial records showed that Thomas used the couple’s debit card after their death.

“Testimony and evidence revealed at trial that Thomas killed the victims’ shortly after lunchtime on October 9th, drove around in their vehicle for several hours, and came back in the evening setting their bodies in the bedroom on fire,” prosecutors said in statement.

After being kicked out of a place he stayed, Thomas was living with the couple for about a week prior to their deaths, according to Assistant Solicitor Robby McNair. But Thomas had known Buddy Deas for years. During the investigations, Thomas said they grew up together and that the two were “best friends” and “like brothers,” McNair said.

Thomas told investigators that he had permission to drive the couple’s car and use their debit card to buy cigarettes, according to McNair. But people close to the couple testified that during Thomas’ stay with the Deases, friction developed between the couple and their housemate.

Police seized clothing from Thomas and tested it for gunshot residue. Investigators also tested the steering wheel of the victim’s car, which Thomas was seen driving, for residue. The tests came back positive, investigators said at trial.

Prosecutor’s called a relative of Thomas to the stand who told the court that Thomas said he had “killed two people.”

Before sentencing Judge Addy told Thomas that he “took away all the victims’ tomorrows.”

Andie Deas was a member of Southside Baptist Church and “music played a big part in her life,” her obituary read.

Buddy Deas was an Army veteran, according to his obituary, and served in Kuwait and Iraq.

“Buddy enjoyed playing the guitar and firing up the grill. More than anything, he enjoyed spending time with his family and dogs,” according to his obituary.

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.