By Lyn Riddle  

JULY 6, 2009 10:13 a.m. Comments (1)

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In his profile of South Carolina’s most prolific and infamous serial killer, Anderson author Wilton Earl quoted Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins as saying, “I have walked the same path as God, by taking lives and making others afraid, I became God's equal.”

The number of Gaskins’ victims is uncertain. Some have said it could be as many as 100. And he did not just murder. He raped, tortured, cannibalized. His victims were male and female, children and babies. He employed practically every way possible to kill someone: choked, slit throats, poisoning, drowning, beating and execution-style shootings.

Gaskins, born in 1933 in Florence, began what would end up being a life of crime at a young age after his mother neglected him and her lovers beat him. He quit school when he was 11 and with some friends burglarized homes. The first person he murdered was his niece and her friend. That was 1970.

Five years later, Gaskins showed police where he buried eight people on property he owned in Prospect. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in the U.S. Gaskins then killed a fellow inmate and received another death sentence. He was executed in 1991, the fourth person in South Carolina to die in the electric chair since the death penalty was reinstated.

His final words were: “I'm ready to go."

Lee Roy Martin targeted young women.

Martin killed four women in Gaffney by strangling them and during the killing spree in1967 and 1968 became known as the Gaffney Strangler.

The first to die was Annie Lucille Dedmond, on May 20, 1967, but a few months after her husband, Roger, was convicted of the murder Martin called a local newspaper editor to say it wasn’t Dedmond, And in fact not only did the caller say was he responsible, he had killed others: Nancy Parris, 20 and Nancy Rhinehart, 14. He told the editor, Bill Gibbons, where to find the bodies.

Gibbons and the sheriff went to the locations and found the remains.

The killer called back and few days later. He said he was not done.

“I'm psycho. If they don't stop me, it will keep happening," he told the editor.

South Carolina’s death row now holds two more serial killers.

Mitchell Sims, a man who called himself a human ashtray because he put out cigarettes on his chest.

He also hated Domino's Pizza, where he had worked and been fired from in 1985.

A few months after he was fired, he held two employees at gunpoint in a Hanahan Domino’s, shot them but one victim managed to identify Sims before he died.

Sims fled to Glendale, Calif., where a few weeks later he ordered a Domino's pizza delivered to his motel room. Sims drowned the delivery boy in the bathtub, put on the man’s uniform and went to the restaurant where he hanged two employees in refrigerator. They survived and identified Sims.

Sims and his girlfriend were arrested in Las Vegas. Sims was convicted in California in 1987 of murder and sentenced to die in the gas chamber at San Quentin. He was convicted in 1989 in South Carolina.

Stephen Bryant started killing in Sumter County in 2004 and during his reign of terror taunted investigators. He wrote "Victem ‥4 in 2 weeks. Catch me if u can." in a victim’s blood in the man’s house.

The man’s daughter called and Bryant told her she couldn’t talk to him, that he had killed the father three hours before. Bryant later told investigators he gained entrance to the man’s house by telling the man his truck had overheated. Bryant said the two talked about religion for hours before Bryant shot him.

He pleaded guilty in 2008 to three murders and a nonfatal shooting in Sumter County.

The victim who survived was 56-year-old man shot in the back while fishing from a riverbank. He drove himself to the hospital.

Bryant was sexually abused as a child, according to court records, and had used drugs and suffers from paranoia.

The next day, Opal Diane Buckson 15, was kidnapped from a school bus stop and strangled.

Buckson’s sister, however, got a good enough look at the killer to lead authorities to an arrest: Martin, 30, who worked in a Gaffney cotton mill. Friends described him as a nice man. One of his co-workers told police he had offered to take care of her in light of all the fear over the strangler.

Martin was convicted and was stabbed to death in prison in 1972.

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