Mother in shock after 16-year-old expecting daughter murdered in Estill

Published: Sep. 1, 2017 at 8:51 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2017 at 5:33 PM EDT
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ESTILL, SC (WTOC) - A 38-year-old man accused of killing a 16-year-old girl and her unborn child is now behind bars after a manhunt that spanned county lines and involved multiple agencies.

Johnnie McKnight is facing charges of murder, attempted murder, and possession of a weapon. He was taken into custody without incident at 9:25, Friday morning, in Denmark, SC.

Estill Police Department says the murder happened at a home on the 800 block of 5th Street. They say McKnight also tried to kill several other people inside the home.

"You get that knot in your throat and your mind just starts thinking of the what if's and that's basically the way I felt," said Mayor Corrin Bowers, Town of Estill. "I was shocked and just was feeling sympathy for the family, thinking about the family the community and how this is going to affect us."

The victim's mother says her daughter had just crossed the street and went inside the house minutes before McKnight sped off in his car. He then circled back down 5th Street where he pulled up in front of the family's home and fired multiple shots, killing the girl and her unborn child.

"Oh God, Alydia got shot. She was in my arms. I laid her down and all the blood came gushing out," her mother said.

Debra Ling and her daughter Alydia rushed inside the home after McKnight sped off down the street.

"He stopped right there in front of my door, on the dirt. He just went to cussing and going on. Shamond said, 'Mama, you and Alydia go inside the house,' so we went inside the house. Next thing we know, we just heard the shooting," Ling said.

"I was just devastated. I just couldn't believe it. I woke my husband up and we talked about it a little bit, and I was like, 'that's her only daughter.' I mean, and they're so loving. I don't understand what made this young man do what he did," said family friend, Angela Brooks.

Debra Ling says she's seen McKnight before and was told he was a friend of Alydia's. A friendship nobody expected to turn deadly.

"Everywhere I go, she was right there. I couldn't go anywhere. Even when I went to work at my patient's house, sometimes she'd be laying in the chair asleep," Ling said.

Alydia's mother says her due date was Sept. 21. She was expecting a baby boy that she had decided to name after her father.

McKnight will be held at the Hampton County Detention Center while awaiting a bond hearing.

Anyone with information about this murder is asked to call Hampton County Dispatch at 803.943.9261 or the Estill Police Department at 803.625.3699.

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