Judge Issues Order FBI Ballistics Examination
Yesterday, Circuit Judge Letitia H. Verdin issued a consent order for the FBI to conduct a ballistics examination of a .32 caliber Rossi pistol that could have been used in the 1975 murders of Greenville County Chief Narcotics Investigator Frank Looper and his father Rufus Looper. The order also includes the FBI testing of a 9mm Llama handgun which was used in the murder of Greenville Police Officer Frank Chastain in the early 1970s. The ballistics test was requested by attorneys representing Charles Wakefield Jr. Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins consented to the judge's order. The 9mm had been stored with a file associated with the Looper murders. That file is now missing from the Greenville Police Department. The court order states that the tests are to be conducted by the FBI in Virginia.
On January 31, 1975 the Loopers were murdered inside Looper's Garage in the City of Greenville. They both died from single .32 caliber bullet wounds to the head with both entry points just above the left ear. Wakefield was arrested and on February 26, 1976, a jury convicted him of the Looper murders and he was sentenced to death by the electric chair. On February 14, 1978 the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld Wakefield's conviction but directed the trial court to re-sentence him to life in prison as the state's death penalty statue had determined to be unconstitutional. Wakefield was paroled in 2010 and now resides in North Carolina.
In Wakefield's trial the state entered into evidence a bullet recovered from Rufus Looper's body; a bullet removed from Lt. Frank Looper's body and a bullet recovered from outside the Looper garage that had penetrated the fabricated wall and landed a few feet from the front exterior of the structure. During the trial Lt. M.N. Catte, of SLED's Crime Lab testified that the bullets that were removed from the Looper bodies were fired from the same gun. The gun, however, was never found. Catte determined that the gun that the gun had characteristics similar to a .32 caliber Rossi.
In October of last year, Don McIntyre, son of a witness who testified at Wakefield's trial, found a .32 caliber Rossi in a box on his property and brought the gun to the Greenville Police Department. That weapon is currently housed in the police department's property room.
On June 8, 2020 Wakefield's attorneys filed a Motion for Post Conviction Ballistics Examination requiring the state's evidence bullets be compared to the .32 caliber Rossi. This week's court order states that the examination should be completed as soon as possible. Results of the tests have been ordered to be sent to the Greenville City Police Department and the 13th Circuit Solicitor's Office. Wilkins' office has been ordered to provide results of the tests to Wakefield's attorney within 24 hours of receipt. Copies of the court order were sent to FBI Agent Aleta Bollinger and Greenville Police Department Interim Chief, J.H. Thompson.