Man Dies Of Heart Attack While Burying His Girlfriend In His Backyard

By Bill Galluccio

May 11, 2022

Plowing the land. Digging earth with shove.
Photo: Getty Images

A South Carolina man suffered a heart attack and died while he was trying to bury the body of his girlfriend in his backyard. The Edgefield County Sheriff said they received a report of an unresponsive man and dispatched deputies to the home of 60-year-old Joseph McKinnon.

When they arrived, they found McKinnon's body in the backyard. There were no signs of trauma on his body, and the deputies suspected that he died of natural causes. As officers continued to investigate his death, they found the body of Patricia Ruth Dent, 65, partially buried in a freshly dug pit.

An autopsy report on the bodies determined that McKinnon died from a heart attack while Dent was strangled to death.

Investigators said that McKinnon attacked Dent inside of his home and then wrapped her body in trash bags. He then dragged her body outside and started to dig a pit in his backyard. While he was covering up Dent's body, he suffered a heart attack and died.

Authorities did not say what caused McKinnon to attack Dent.

Dent's family was shocked to learn that she had been killed.

“I’m shocked. I didn’t see any of that coming,” Dent's twin sister Pamela Briggs told WRDW. “Everybody who ever met her liked her. She was just full of energy. She was 65 and working."

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