Jasper County man convicted of raping Bluffton woman during home invasion

Crime & Safety
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“You got me going to the station for no reason, all for a he-said-she-said.”

That’s what 29-year-old Lance Elam said back in 2017 to officers on his way to jail.. the first of three stories he tried to use to cover his tracks.

Elam was found in the Bluffton post office parking lot with a flat tire, tracked there by two family members of his victim.

The two men used her stolen cell phone to find him and call police.

Elam initially claimed officers made a mistake, but then later gave a full confession how he used an open window to get into her home. assaulted her.. then took her sheets and underwear to help hide the evidence.

Those things were found inside his truck when he was arrested.

“Had the defendant not been so detailed in his chilling confession, we probably wouldn’t be here today,” said Hunter Swanson, Prosecutor 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office

Later, Elam changed his story again, saying he had a “secret affair” with his victim.  But he got her name wrong when he tried that story.

A jury found him guilty and a Beaufort County Judge sentenced Elam to life in prison for the crime.

Prosecutors say the streets of Beaufort County are safer with elam behind bars.

“Its a true home invasion stranger rape which is every woman’s worst nightmare,” said Swanson. “I actually have a friend who won’t stay at home alone when her husband is gone because she’s afraid of “The Raper”. She packs up her bags and spent the night. I can’t tell her that man doesn’t exist, because he does and he was just convicted.”

Elam’s DNA was also connected to sexual assaults in Charlotte, North Carolina and in Texas.
23 warrants for his arrest have now been issued for him in those states.

A 31-year-old Jasper County man suspected of rape in two other states has been found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary for assaulting a Bluffton woman in her home.
Lance Rontavis Elam of Tarboro, S.C., was found guilty Wednesday in Beaufort County General
Sessions Court by a jury of eight men and four women. Elam was sentenced to life in prison.
According to the report, the victim was too distraught to testify. Hunter Swanson of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office presented the jury with DNA evidence and testimony from 10 witnesses during the two-day trial.

Elam’s previous record included only traffic offenses. However, the DNA collected after his
arrest by the Bluffton Police Department connects him to sexual assaults and burglaries in Texas
and the Charlotte, N.C., area, where 23 warrants for his arrest have been issued.
Elam was apprehended shortly after the attack on April 28, 2017, when two relatives of the
victim tracked her iPhone to the parking lot of the U.S. Post Office in Bluffton. Elam had pulled
over there with a flat tire. The relatives called 911 when they saw Elam remove bedding from
the cab of the white pickup truck he was driving.
Earlier that evening, Elam selected the victim’s house, parked the truck nearby, then hopped a
fence to stake out the residence. He told investigators that he stood for a while in her open
garage, then went to the back of the home, searching for an unlocked window. Finding one, he
climbed through, then stood silently in the home for a few minutes to ensure there were no other
people and no dogs inside.
Elam then made his way down a hallway to the victim’s bedroom. Startled by a creak in the
floor, the woman awoke. 
After sexually assaulting the woman, Elam forced her to bathe. Before making his getaway, he
collected the bed sheets, the underwear the woman had been wearing, her cell phone and a watch
Bluffton police found all of the items taken from the victim’s home in the truck. DNA collected
in the victim’s rape kit matched Elam, and traces of the victim’s DNA were detected on Elam’s
Elam provided a recorded confession to Bluffton investigators, but in court, he reportedly changed his story.
He contended that he and the victim had a monthlong, consensual affair.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen T. Mullen sentenced Elam to 30 years on the criminal sexual
conduct charge, the maximum for that offense, and life in prison for the burglary.

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