Husband accused of killing wife and mother-in-law in court

The Florence County man accused of killing his wife and her mother appeared in court for the first time Wednesday morning.

Magistrate Judge Belinda Timmons arraigned Hiralkumar Gopaldas, 33, on two counts of murder.

Deputies with the Florence County Sheriff's Office say he stabbed his wife and her mother Saturday.

The bodies of Punam Gopaldas, 31, and Vinaben Patel, 57, were found Saturday night at Punam's home on Nicklaus Court at the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence County.

Family members had asked police to check the home because they were worried and they hadn't heard from her.

Wednesday morning, the victims' family members sat quietly at the arraignment.

"This family is without a mother and daughter, and it's heartbreaking for everyone involved," said Captain Michael Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

An arrest warrant says someone saw Gopaldas at the crime scene, and he admitted to being there around the estimated time of death.

Officers haven't released a motive, but say the couple was in the middle of a divorce.

Nunn said, "It's hard to process what motivations are in these types of things."

Gopaldas didn't say much at the hearing, but did tell the judge his attorney was expected to be at his hearing.

He listened to the judge and never looked back at his wife's family.

Deputies are being tight lipped about any hard evidence they may have against Gopaldas.

"The arrest of a suspect does not mean that the investigation is over," said Captain Nunn.

The Florence County Sheriff's Office is not releasing an incident report that details what happened in the initial hours of the investigation.

Gopaldas has not asked for a bond hearing yet. His next court appearance is scheduled for August.

Friends of the victims say they will set a date for a private memorial service when relatives arrive from out of state.