A Marion County man was found shot to death at his home on Phill Court in the Friendship Community just after midnight Thursday, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office. Coroner Jerry Richardson identified the victim as 71-year-old Samuel Rowell.
When deputies got inside, they found Rowell had been shot to death, gagged with his hands taped behind his back and his ankles ducked taped together.
Investigators with the Marion County Sheriff's Office says Rowell was murdered during a robbery and home invasion. At this time, there are no suspects.
Deputies have called in the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to help them investigate.
SLED has removed surveillance cameras on Rowell's property, according to Marion County Sheriff Mark Richardson. It is not clear if the cameras contained any video that could help officers in the investigation.
Rowell's first cousin Raymond Rowell came to his home to look after Rowell's seven horses and several dogs on his 40-acre farm. He says he last spoke with his cousin a few days ago when he helped him fix his lawn mower.
Rowell never thought that would be their last conversation.
"I just hope I could have been somewhere around when this was happening, so I could have been some help to him like he's been to me. I don't know what happened here. Whether it was just robbery or vendetta or whatever?" said Rowell.
Relatives say Rowell was a person of good character. They say he financially helped a lot of people in Marion County over the years, especially families faced with losing homes and cars.
Rowell's siblings say he was quite fond of children, always letting them visit his farm. The siblings say they're hurting because they never thought anyone would want to harm their brother.
Rowell served in the Army for many years and leaves behind a wife and 15 children, according to his family.
His cousins say he loved to give fruit and vegetables to people throughout the year and he will be dearly missed in the community.
Sheriff Mark Richardson says investigators are working around the clock to solve this crime. He says they've recovered shell casings at the scene, but need the public's help.
If you have any information about the killing of Sam Rowell, you're asked to call the Marion County Sheriff's Office at (843) 423-8216.