Darius Artis disappeared from his Low Country home around Thanksgiving, but he really didn't go anywhere. His house burned to the ground, with his body still inside. Investigators just found the remains recently in Coosawhatchie (Human Bones Found in Burned House), and just positively identified them as Artis' over the weekend.
We talked with Jasper County coroner Martin Sauls last night. He says the body was so badly burned that they were only able to find a small jawbone, so for all practical purposes, it was like trying to find and identify someone who'd been cremated. Because of that, there's no way of knowing how Artis may have died.
For more than two months now, Artis' family has wondered. "I heard the news that his house burned down, but they didn't know for sure if Darius was in the house or not," said Marcus Simmons, Artis' cousin. "I was praying that he was not in the house."
When firefighters checked the house in late November, they didn't find anything. Neither did family members who picked through the debris several times themselves. It wasn't until state investigators brought in cadaver dogs that anyone made any headway.
"When they said they didn't find him, I was hoping that he was somewhere else," said Marcus.
Now, a week and a half after finding remains in the house, investigators have brought back the bad news. In some ways, it's a relief that the search is over.
"Actually, my mother, she was wondering whether that was him or not. So I'm sorry it happened that way, but at least she knows what it is now," said Joe Simmons, another cousin of Artis.
Now the family is moving on with the mourning process and starting to put the questions about where Artis might be behind them.
Artis' family is holding a memorial service for him this Saturday at 1:30pm at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Coosawhatchie.