A reporter at the Clinton Courier News will be taken off the county government beat for now as authorities investigate a missing keys report filed Monday by Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, the newspaper’s publisher said Tuesday.
Frank filed the missing keys report after the Monday night meeting of the Anderson County Commission in Clinton. She told Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Bradley A. Prewitt that she had stored her keys under a desk and noticed them missing sometime after 10:30 p.m. Monday. She said she had left her seat during the meeting to address the commission and for a break, and Courier News reporter Chris Silcox had sat in or near her seat at some point during the meeting, Prewitt wrote in an incident report.
After the meeting, Frank said Silcox contacted her and explained, via text message, that he had unintentionally grabbed her keys, mistaking them for his wife’s. Silcox made arrangements to return the keys to Richard Burroughs, Frank’s chief of staff, Prewitt said, but only the auto key fob and business key were returned.
“Ms. Frank advised that her home and office keys were still missing,” Prewitt said.
The corporal said he spoke with Silcox by phone and asked him to search his property, and Silcox reported that he found two keys and some value cards that “neither he nor his wife recognized as their property,” the report said. Silcox told Prewitt that he would return the keys and value card to Frank at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.
Prewitt said he later talked to Frank just after 1 a.m. Tuesday and verified that she received the rest of her keys and cards.
“There is not sufficient evidence, at this time, to establish probable cause that Christopher Silcox intentionally took Ms. Frank’s keys with the intent to deprive her of their use,” Prewitt said. “I advised Ms. Frank of this conclusion.”
But he said the Sheriff’s Department will continue to investigate the case.
Courier News Publisher Allen Handley said Silcox will be taken off the county government beat until the investigation is complete.
“We are taking it very seriously, and we want to get to the bottom and find out what happened,” Handley said Tuesday morning.
Handley declined to comment on the incident report itself.