The members of Good Hope Baptist Church have waited two years to see justice done on behalf of two of their former church members, who were shot dead at their Conway area home in August of 2018.
But now that three arrests have been made church member Brent Groome calls it bittersweet.
Randy Grainger, 53, of Loris, and Samantha Ford Rabon, 35, of Aynor, are both charged with two counts of murder. Grainger also faces charges of arson, third degree, and use of a vehicle without permission with intent to deprive. Teresa Martin, 54, of Conway, is charged with conspiracy to commit a felony.
Almost two years after the two Conway men, Robert Ford Jr., 59, and his 25-year-old son Robbie Ford, were found dead at their home, DNA evidence led Horry County police to charge the three Horryites Monday.
On one hand, Groome and other members of his church wanted to see the seemingly-senseless killings solved, but they didn’t expect the arrest to “hit this close to home.”
Groome doesn’t know two of the suspects, but he does know one of them, Samantha Ford Rabon, who was Ford’s daughter.
If she’s found guilty, he said, it will be still another tragedy for the Ford family.
Shortly before the killings, Ford’s wife Melda died unexpectedly after years of suffering with crippling arthritis, Groome said shortly after the killings.
Rabon’s arrest warrant gives no motive for her alleged actions, but says she solicited her co-defendants to kill her father and brother. The co-defendants then acted in accordance with “a common scheme or plan to commit the murder with malice aforethought.”
The deaths stunned members of Good Hope Baptist Church where the two men worshipped and the older Ford sang in a quartet and directed the choir.
Groome has since taken over directing the choir.
“I pray for the family. It’s been such a tragedy in so many aspects and unfortunately this appears to be anther part of that,” he said.
Prayer has been the church’s reaction to their members’ deaths from the beginning. When members began to hear about the killings, they rushed to the church to pray together.
“At our last homecoming we honored Robert and Robbie’s memory and the family donated a music stand in Robert’s memory because obviously, you know, he was very active with the choir and with the quartet that we both sang in, so I think the biggest thing the church will be doing is again, be in prayer for the family as a whole,” he said.
He says it’s hard to fathom that the arrests would include a family member, but he believes in the judicial system and acknowledges that no one is guilty until proven so in a trial.
He hopes that if Rabon is found guilty that the evidence will be overwhelming so the church and the community won’t be left with even a shadow of a doubt.
Groome said early on, everyone was trying to come up with a motive for the killings, but he’s not heard one attached to Rabon.
He also hopes that when a trial comes that more will come out so, perhaps, they can make some kind of sense of this tragic situation.
Now, he says with an arrest having been made, “It’s one of those things. It’s kind of like a flashback to when it occurred and that gut wrenching feeling that you felt when you found out that they had been murdered, so part of it is reflected on it again, and then again.”
But not having any answers was always hard for the church members, who from time to time brought up the case wondering if anyone was ever going to be charged.
Groome said he had begun to wonder if this would be one of those unsolved cases that would eventually make its way to television.
“I’m elated that it would appear that they have solved it and made the arrests, but I also, because of who’s being arrested, and it’s his daughter, I don’t want to be quick to pass judgment, and that’s why I go back to hoping the evidence is overwhelming, so it doesn’t leave that doubt out there,” he said.
Shortly after the incident, Groome said the Ford family had played a significant part in the life of the church for at least three generations.
Ford sang, along with Groome in a quartet with Charles Hucks and Odell Dorman with Ford as the lead singer. They shared the gospel message at funerals, revivals and church homecomings.
Over the years, Ford served as a Sunday school teacher and deacon, but Groome believes his greatest impact was teaching Bible drills, resulting in the church having several Bible drill state champions.
Groome said then that he believed the two Fords had been to Charleston for the day on that Friday looking for a place for Robbie Ford to stay during the upcoming school year. The younger Ford was studying architecture at Clemson University, and spending a semester in either Charleston or Italy was a degree requirement in that major.
The two returned home, but left again to get something to eat. When they returned home the second time is when the crime happened.
Many of the church members believed at the time that it was a robbery gone awry.
Horry County police found both of the men dead, on the ground outside of the house.
Arrest warrants say they had been shot multiple times. Their vehicle had been burned.
Ford had previously worked with Pepsi Cola Bottling Company and Grove Manufacturing, but when he died he was working with Spectrum, as he had for more than 20 years.
He also enjoyed playing softball and volleyball at the church.
“The community, as word is getting out, especially now that I guess Horry County police have initiated a statement, I’m sure my phone will be buzzing this afternoon,” Groome said.