Deputies Seize Drugs, Stolen Goods

Eric Lee Matthews

Larry Kay Matthews

RIDGEWAY – The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office last week arrested a Ridgeway man they believe responsible for a string of thefts that have plagued the Ridgeway, Longtown and Lake Wateree communities since May. In the process, investigators arrested a second man after uncovering a stash of heroin and an elaborate marijuana growing facility inside a Longtown Road home.

Eric Lee Matthews, 37, and his brother, Larry Kay Matthews Jr., both of 2800 Longtown Road were arrested at their home on July 30. Investigators had linked the elder Matthews to the thefts after several stolen items were tracked down at a Columbia pawn shop in the days leading up to the arrests. While serving a search warrant on the Matthews’ home, several other stolen items were discovered inside. Also found inside the home were 13 small bags of heroin, with a total weight of more than 1 gram. The marijuana growing room was sophisticated, Chief Deputy Keith Lewis said last week, although it was not in operation and no plants were found. Other drug paraphernalia were also found at the home, including a crack pipe and a small amount of marijuana.

Eric Matthews was charged with burglary, grand larceny and petty larceny. Larry Matthews has been charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin. At press time, Eric Matthews remained at the Fairfield County Detention Center. Larry Matthews was released on a $20,000 surety bond on Aug. 1.

Since May, the larcenies have picked off more than $70,000 in various items from yards, sheds and car ports in the area. The items consist mostly of random tools, boating equipment, lawn care gear and gas cans. Last month, a tractor was stolen from outside a home near Lake Wateree. Investigators followed a trail left by the tractor down Longtown Road to Highway 650 where they lost the track. The tractor was recovered last week at a home in Blythewood. Also recovered at the same Blythewood home was a stolen jet ski.

The Sheriff’s Office said Eric Matthews has so far been linked to more than 14 cases, with investigators working to tie Matthews to even more cases in both Fairfield and Richland County. Lewis said approximately 99 percent of the recovered property has been connected with its original owners and will be returned.

“I’d like to recognize our deputies, especially our criminal investigators,” Lewis said. “They did a great job of staying with these cases when it seemed that all leads had been exhausted. I can’t say enough for how hard they work, not only on these cases, but on all of them. We’re a lucky community to have such dedicated professionals.”