Newberry Manhunt Update

Newberry County, SC (WLTX) -- The area of the search, located north of Pomaria, South Carolina, borders the Sumter National Forest, and is a rather sparsely populated rural area.

Many of the smaller roads are unpaved, there are only two or three small subdivisions near the search area, at the intersections of US 176 and SC 34, and definitely no sidewalks out here. Plenty of trees, some farms, a few mobile homes, swamps, and a few small church congregations.

People around here enjoy living in a quiet area, and are comfortable not locking their homes or cars at night, even with keys left in the ignition.

Normally 5AM Thursday activities include prepping the kids for school, feeding the animals, and getting ready for work.

For more than seven hours already Thursday, since 5:00AM, this quiet corner of Newberry County has become the focus of more than one hundred law enforcement officers, helicopters, cops decked out in bullet-proof vests, and bloodhound search teams.

16-year-old Zack Blanchard, from Green County, Tennessee, is suspected of killing his father by gunshot sometime before 11PM Wednesday night, 36-year-old Robert Blanchard.

It is believed that Liam Lawler, Shelby Riley, and Daniel Richards-Birchfield fled Greenewood, Tennessee with Zack Blanchard sometime after 11PM Wendesday, shortly after the shooting-death of the senior Blanchard.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster believes the other three in the group were unaware of the shooting before it happened.

PREVIOUS: Newberry County Manhunt for 4 Murder Suspects

Sheriff Foster said he does not believe there is any connection in this part of Newberry County for any of the teens, and the fact that the group fled on foot in an area they're not familiar with is unusual.

The Sheriff said that two long rifles and two AK-47s were found in the minivan the teens were driving, and according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, 8 weapons were taken from the residence there. He went on to say that over 200 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the vehicle, though hand guns taken by the group have not been found.

He went on to say the four were last seen around 7:00AM Wednesday, when the teens ran away on foot through a nearby field, but the bloodhounds brought along later lost the scent, in one of those swamps.

The Sheriff believes that since the teens don't know the area, and that combination of dense forest, swamps, and an afternoon crew of more than 80 law enforcement officers has prevented them from leaving the area.

Foster says his major concern is the neighbors, with so many at ease with unlocked doors overnight, it's his fear that the fugitives either got into someones home, or took someones car and escaped the area.

He said early on the bloodhounds were following three separate tracks, leading investigators to think the group may have split up, but those trails have not lead to any discoveries.

Sheriff Foster told News 19 that family members of the other teens actually reported their kids missing this morning, unaware of their connection to Zack Blanchard, or the murder that happened late Wednesday night in Tennessee.

The combined efforts of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Newberry County Sheriff's Department, other local law enforcement agencies, and cooperative assistance from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, will all continue in their search.

The suspects were located shortly before 4:00PM, after 11 hours of searching, an eagle-eye resident saw the four teens run through the edge of his strawberry field, and phoned 911.

While on the phone with dispatch, the man says he was yelling at the teens, and even helped guide one of the law enforcement helicopters to their location.

MORE: Newberry Sheriff: All Four Suspects Captured


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