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South Carolina man shoots mother-in-law and then kills himself, wife says COVID-19 made him crazy

The COVID-19 pandemic is being blamed for a murder-suicide after a man, 39, shot dead his mother-in-law at a H&R block before turning the gun on himself.

Bevin Vinton described how her husband James Vinton, 39, became obsessed with the virus, and would sit at home every day, smoking cigars and pouring over the pandemic.

She said James, who was on mood stabilizers for serious mental health issues, also began to resent Bevin’s mother Deborah Buchanan, 68, and believe she favored her other daughter.

On the day of the shooting, James had confronted his mother-in-law Buchanan at a H&R Block in Fort Mill, South Carolina on August 31, and demanded she tell him what she was leaving him in her will. When she refused her fatally shot her. 

Vinton then aimed at his sister-in-law, Crispin Metcalf, before ultimately turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

James Vinton (R) committed suicide after killing his mother-in-law back in August

James Vinton (R) committed suicide after killing his mother-in-law Deborah Buchanan (left) back in August

Bevin Vinton (pictured with her husband) described how her husband James Vinton, 39, became obsessed with the virus, and would sit at home every day, smoking cigars and pouring over the pandemic

Bevin Vinton (pictured with her husband) described how her husband James Vinton, 39, became obsessed with the virus, and would sit at home every day, smoking cigars and pouring over the pandemic

The Fort Mill Sun is releasing new transcripts from interviews the Fort Mill Police conducted with Vinton’s wife, Bevin, in the immediate aftermath of the murder-suicide.

In the interview, Bevin pointed to the coronavirus as being a primary driver of James’ mental illness.

‘COVID made him crazy,’ Bevin stated. ‘Sitting in a room while I still had to go to work because I was a social worker, sitting in a room, smoking cigars and trying all those meds just made him crazy.’

Bevin is referring to medication prescribed by a mental health professional. Bevin said James had been using a mood stabilizer for over two decades, but was in the process of trying different combinations of medications in the weeks leading up to the tragedy.

‘Within the last three weeks, they changed the medication 3 or 4 times,’ Bevin stated.

Bevin mentioned COVID-19 numerous times during the interview as she attempted to make sense of what had happened.

The murder-suicide happened at an H&R Block in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Vinton also shot his sister-in-law before turning the gun on himself

The murder-suicide happened at an H&R Block in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Vinton also shot his sister-in-law before turning the gun on himself

James' wife, Bevin, (pictured with him) gave an interview to the police after the shooting, claiming that a recalibration of his medication and a developing anger stemming from COVID-19 led to the tragedy

James’ wife, Bevin, (pictured with him) gave an interview to the police after the shooting, claiming that a recalibration of his medication and a developing anger stemming from COVID-19 led to the tragedy

‘It’s been going on all COVID, but the psychologists the last two or three weeks just changed his meds every week,’ Bevin said. ‘And it made him go crazy and obsess. He was still obsessing about what was going on and just thought that my mother just treated me horribly all the time and didn’t care about me. Didn’t love me. He thought all of that.’

Bevin also talked about anger James had regarding his mother-in-law’s will and perceived favoritism towards Bevin’s sister, Crispin.

Bevin mentioned James had discussed what he would do if he got COVID-19, saying James ‘would tell me about what his fantasy was like – if he got COVID he would take out these people before he dies.’

It’s not clear if James ever contracted COVID-19. 

Just prior to the incident, it appeared progress was being made in James’ mental health battle, with an appointment at Three Rivers Behavioral Health, a psychiatric facility in West Columbia, scheduled for the following day.

‘I found a place for him, a psychiatric hospital for him to go to, Three Rivers in Columbia, but they said the first appointment wasn’t until tomorrow,’ Bevin told police.

Tragedy intervened before James could make his appointment, though.

‘This morning, he did say he wished he could go into the psychiatric hospital today,’ Bevin said on the day of the murder-suicide. ‘He did say that.’

For confidential support, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.


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