The resident of a halfway house with a violent history has been charged with murder for the disappearance of two other men who were living in the same facility.
Marc-Anthony Cantrell was charged Friday with the murder of 22-year-old Jared Ondrea who has been missing since March.
Cantrell, 25, was incarcerated at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center after he was charged with the murder of his roommate, Deshea Butler.
Ondrea’s family reported him missing from the halfway house on March 23. His body has not been recovered, according to police.
On July 4, Butler, 35, was reported missing from the same facility at 2214 Harper St. His body was found just two days later on the same block as the halfway house where the three men were residents. Cantrell was arrested for Butler’s murder on July 9 and is also being held on a $50,000 bond for probation violation.
The Columbia Police Department has said that a motive for the murders remains under investigation. It is being investigated by the police department’s Special Victims Unit and the Violent Crimes Against Persons Unit.
“These are very unique and heartbreaking cases that been emotionally draining for Special Victims Unit investigators. Speaking with the victims’ loved ones has been especially trying. We are grateful to have made charges in the cases,” Columbia Police Chief William H. “Skip” Holbrook told The State.
Officers have said that they have been consulting with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office about the investigation.
The halfway home is operated by New Hope Home Solutions, LLC, a company that manages unlicensed care homes designed to provide stable housing for individuals at risk of homelessness, according to its website.
The facility was intended to house up to eight residents in three bedrooms, according to documents submitted to the city of Columbia’s zoning board. The application reads, in part, that “the home is designed to assist each individual in developing the skills to live independently in the community while maintaining one’s safety and security with help from qualified staff.”
New Hope Home Solutions did not respond to a request for comment Saturday morning.
It ‘felt good to kill the dogs,’ suspect told authorities after 2018 arrest
In 2018, Cantrell was arrested and charged with setting fire to his grandmother’s home in Jackson, South Carolina, to cover up the fact that he had killed three of the family’s dogs.
Cantrell, then 18, confessed that “he killed the dogs and burned the house,” according to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated the case. He told law enforcement that he started the house fire “to try and cover up the fact that he killed the dogs, because he had killed his family’s dogs in the past,” according to the incident report.
In a statement to law enforcement after the fire, Cantrell’s mother wrote that that when one of her dogs was missing days before the fire, her son had admitted to killing the animal.
“He also told me that he killed two other dogs and a cat in the past three months. I asked him why, and he couldn’t give me an answer except that it felt good and made everything right,” Cantrell’s mother wrote in the statement, according to Aiken Standard.
The officer reported Cantrell said several times that it “felt good to kill the dogs” and it made things “feel right.”
According to the sheriff’s department, Cantrell explained that he had blacked out after injecting amphetamine. When he regained consciousness, Cantrell told sheriff’s deputies that he had an ax in his hand and “saw that he had killed the dogs.”
Investigators also found paper towels, a candle and gas can. The smell of gasoline filled the home, the sheriff’s office reported.
Cantrell was convicted of three counts of mistreatment of animals and one count of arson, second degree. He was sentenced to three years probation and 10 years suspended sentence for the arson.