His office is not fancy, but it’s neat and orderly, just as he likes his department to be.
Sheriff C. David Stone eases back in his chair and settles in for a conversation.
Some people say the 74-year-old lawman is too old, too feeble and is not in shape to handle the duties of his office.
But Stone said he doesn’t spend much time worrying about what other people say about him. He believes in work. He wants to work. And, he wants to continue to serve as sheriff.
“I love law enforcement,” Stone said. “There are always critics out there every four years. I try not to let it bother me. I have a job to do.”
Stone said he’s been blessed with good health. He said he walks 2.8 miles three to four times a week, exercises each morning and passed his most recent physical in November with no problems.
After almost 44 years as the top cop in Pickens, Stone has plenty of stories to tell and a wealth of knowledge in performing the job. But he should, he’s the second longest serving sheriff in the nation.
Stone’s friend Dwight Radcliff, the sheriff of Pickaway County in Ohio, has posted 48 years.
“He told me he was calling it quits this year with 48 years of service,” Stone said. “I told him ‘if I win this term and serve all four years, I’ll have 48, too.’”
But if you ask Stone what’s been the key to his success, he said it’s his personnel.
“I’ve surrounded myself with good people, smart people” he said. “That’s the key to doing any job is having good people around you.”
Stone still arrives at the Sheriff’s Office each day around 7 a.m. to read reports from overnight, much like he did when he first began work in 1969. He also stops in each weekend after church on Sundays to read the reports from Friday night and Saturday.
While Stone may not remember every detail from each report, he said he at least has an idea of what’s happening in the county and can address certain situations during daily meetings with his command staff.
But what keeps him motivated at a time when most people are enjoying retirement?
Stone said he’s not a big fisherman and not big golfer, he likes both, but he prefers to stay busy with work.
“People find their job. My father was in law enforcement 28 or 29 years, retired around 1968,” he said. “I guess it’s in my blood.”
Stone said over the years he has seen many changes. From bootleg liquor, to the first marijuana being found in the county in 1971 or 1972, and now to the manufacturing of newer drugs, ID theft and the growing number of domestic violence cases.
Stone said there’s always been crime, but the criminals have changed and his office has had to change with them.
In the last 10 years, the agency has received more than $1.5 million in grant money. The money has been used to acquire technology and equipment to aid deputies in doing their jobs more effectively and more efficiently.
“It’s helps us stay ahead of gang activity and Internet crimes and be more proactive regarding illegal immigration,” Stone said.
It's also helped the department to stay up-to-date on training and in combatting the war on drugs.
“There’s something new all the time,” Stone said. “You hear about new drugs, bath salts, synthetic marijuana. We can’t make an arrest without a law first being passed to make those things illegal. It was the same thing with ‘black beauties’ and heroin and the very worst, meth.”
But Stone said his biggest priority has always been to protect the citizens of Pickens County.
While Stone touts that the county has the second lowest rate of violent crime in South Carolina, he also remembers some of the most horrific crimes that have happened in the county, as well as those that have yet to be solved.
As he talked about some of those cases, Stone remembered the people involved and the investigators who led those cases.
One case in particular that Stone recalls with clarity dates back to 1971. Tammy Haynes, a 12-year-old girl, was kidnapped from a coin laundry in Liberty.
Stone said it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen.
“She was raped, wrapped in duct-tape and thrown into Twelve Mile River,” Stone said. “We worked that case for 31 days before we found her.”
Stone said that Virgil Preston Vinson, the man charged with Haynes’ death, died in prison.
“Her father just died a short time ago,” Stone said.
Missing Clemson student Jason Knapp is a case Stone would still love to solve. He said while he hopes that one day they will learn the young man just walked away, he still wonders what happened to Knapp in April 1998.
“His mother comes down here every year and we still are still working on that case,” Stone said. “I hope that some day we find out that he’s still alive somewhere. There was no sign of struggle, his car was parked there with an empty McDonald’s bag inside and he disappeared from Table Rock.”
Another unsolved case that Stone wants to solve is the death of Clemson University graduate student Norsaadah Husain.
Her body was found some time later near the Oconee Nuclear Station.
The death of Tiffany Souers received national attention and remains on the forefront of Stone’s mind. Her confessed killer, Jerry Buck Inman, who is condemned to die for strangling the Clemson University student with her bikini top in 2006, asked for and was denied an appeal by the South Carolina Supreme Court in December.
And then last year, a quadruple murder in Liberty. The Sheriff’s Office has charged Susan Hendricks in the deaths of her two sons, her ex-husband and her stepmother. Hendricks is awaiting trial.
“These cases stay with you,” Stone said. “I can visualize them now, the people there, who was standing where, what was happening at the scene. At the end of the day, you just want to know that you did everything possible to solve that case.”