An inmate in South Carolina’s Ridgeland Correctional Institute is being charged with making the bomb threat that temporarily halted Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial earlier this month.
The Colleton County courthouse was evacuated on February 8 after courthouse personnel received the bomb threat, as CrimeOnline previously reported. The trial was halted until about 2:30 p.m. while the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s bomb squad searched the premises. They found nothing, and the trial resumed at about 2:30, although it ended early that day two hours later.
Colleton County deputies say 32-year-old Joey Coleman made the call, telling a clerk there was a “bomb in the judge’s chamber,” the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
According to the sheriff’s office, SLED agents and Colleton County detectives traced the call to the Ridgeland Correctional Institute in Jasper County, about 35 miles from the courthouse in Walterboro. State Department of Corrections personnel tracked the call to a cell phone in Coleman’s possession.
“An initial forensic examination of the phone confirmed the components were a match to the device used to call in the bomb threat to the courthouse,” the sheriff’s office statement said.
The sheriff’s office said there is no known connection between Coleman and Murdaugh or the trial.
According to jail records, Coleman is serving a lengthy sentence for kidnapping, armed robbery, and assault and battery. He was transferred to the Broad River Secure Facility in Columbia on February 8 for the investigation.
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[Featured image: Inset: Joey Coleman/South Carolina Department of Corrections. Background: FILE – Police block off roads near the courthouse due to a bomb threat during Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on February 8, 2023. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File)]