Greenville, SC -- A former student of Berea Middle School teacher Laurie Patton strangled her, set her on fire and then stole her car, arrest warrants and a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff's Office allege.
Warrants were issued late Thursday against Darrin Terrell Eskew, 21, of 415 Earle Drive, Greenville, on charges of murder, third-degree arson and grand larceny.
Eskew was arrested in Banks County, Ga., on Monday on unrelated charges following a traffic stop, several hours after Patton's death, and he remained in custody there late Thursday, according to Greenville County Deputy Drew Pinciaro.
The process of having him extradited to Greenville is underway, he said.
"Through the course of the investigation, investigators learned that Eskew and Patton were acquaintances due to her being his school teacher in the past," Pinciaro said. "On the day of the incident, Eskew and Patton got into a physical altercation.
"We don't know what caused the altercation," he said.
No further details were released.
Patton, 39, of 12 S. Poinsett Highway, Travelers Rest, was a special education teacher who taught emotionally handicapped students, according to Greenville County Schools.
Coroner Parks Evans has said her body was burned beyond recognition in the fire at Quality Inn on South Pleasantburg Drive before dawn Monday.
He said he wouldn't rule on the cause of death until after tests are completed, probably in three or four weeks.
Eskew was stopped by Banks County deputies on Interstate 85 after he was seen driving in the left lane at 30 mph, officials there have said. He tried to fight when they attempted to give him a sobriety test and continued struggling even after being stunned by a Taser, they said.
Officers eventually determined that he was "emotionally distraught," authorities said.
The Greenville County warrants allege that after the killing that he "drove away from the scene in the victim's 2004 Honda Pilot."
Authorities in Georgia said they traced the vehicle to Patton and notified Greenville investigators.