by Robert A. Waters
“Someone took her life over a rock of crack.” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
From the dope-house to the jailhouse is not an uncommon occurrence. (An addict once told me that since turning to drugs, she’d done everything she’d vowed never to do--that included prostitution, theft, robbery, and attempted murder.) According to investigators, Sammy Lynch murdered eighty-three-year-old Evelyn Harbin after she caught him breaking into her home. The long-time addict was allegedly there to steal items that he could sell or trade for drugs.
On September 3, 2010, family members found the body of Evelyn Harbin lying on the floor of her Columbia, South Carolina home. Blood was everywhere. Harbin, a widow, was well-loved by family and friends. She lived in a quiet neighborhood, collected antique pottery, and went to church every time the doors opened. She was a retired cake decorator.
Sammy Lynch lived across the road from Harbin. Police told reporters that after he broke into the grandmother’s home, she confronted him. Showing no mercy, the brutal killer attacked Evelyn. According to news accounts, he broke her neck and stabbed her to death. He later mutilated her body in an attempt to cover his crime.
Leaving his victim dead on the living room floor, Lynch stole her flat screen television set and other belongings. Included among the killer’s loot were checkbooks and a handicapped parking sign. He also stole her Chevy Trailblazer.
Lynch became an immediate suspect because of his proximity to the victim and his lengthy criminal background. Since 1993, he has had numerous arrests for illegal drugs and burglaries.
Two days after the murder, detectives found Evelyn’s Trailblazer parked near an abandoned house behind Lynch’s home. In addition to items from the victim, the SUV contained belongings of Lynch.
According to Sheriff Lott, it didn’t take long for the suspect to confess to the murder and robbery. Lynch stated that after murdering Evelyn, he used her cell phone to call a dating service. It’s also thought that he went back into the home a second time to steal additional items.
Evelyn’s granddaughter, Gina Harbin, found the body. "You just can't accept this,” she said. “[You] just can't get over it. I can't sleep. I keep seeing her little face and how scared she must have been."
Sheriff Lott told reporters: “We’ve got a crackhead who was so desperate to go out and steal something so that he could get some more drugs that he took this lady’s life.”
“He had absolutely no remorse,” Lott added.
A neighbor, David Fox, echoed the feelings of many. "It takes a sorry individual,” he said, “[and] it takes a cruel person to do something like that to anybody, especially an elderly lady. He needs to be skinned one inch at a time."
Millions of crimes are committed by addicts each year. Heartbreak and destroyed lives follow in their wake. Sometimes the murder of innocent victims so enrages the public that the ultimate justice must follow.