Man sentenced to life without parole in Laurens County murder


Laurens, S.C.; April 25, 2024 – A man is headed to prison for the remainder of his natural life after being found guilty Wednesday for the December 2021 murder of a Fountain Inn woman, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Thursday.

Timothy Paul Spencer, 49, was found guilty Wednesday by a Laurens County jury on a charge of murder following an 8-day trial at the Laurens County courthouse. Circuit Judge Donald Hocker then sentenced Spencer to life in prison, without the possibility of parole under South Carolina law.

On December 10, 2021, family members of Billie Jean Cross reported the 58-year-old disabled Army veteran missing. In a conversation with her mother the previous day, Cross indicated that she was waiting on a HVAC repairman to fix the heat in her cold house and that she would call her mother back when the repairman left. Cross’ mother never received that call. The following day, Cross’ mother and other family members met detectives at Cross’ residence on Fairview Road south of Fountain Inn.  Cross was not at the residence and there were no signs of forced entry. Investigators did spot several small drops which appeared to be blood on the carpet near a chair where Cross was known to sit.  Investigators also noted early in the investigation that, strangely, Cross’ rolling trash container was missing.

Over the course of the ensuing week, investigators were able to use Cross’ bank records to identify Spencer as the HVAC repairman who went to Cross’ home that day in December. Subsequent search warrants for the victim’s phone data, Spencer’s phone data, and Spencer’s truck GPS records led investigators to Spencer, a resident of Anderson County, as being a prime suspect in the case.  Spencer denied any involvement, but was held on warrants in Greenville County stemming from fraud allegations surrounding his HVAC business. Investigators also discovered a transaction using a phone app between Cross’ personal bank account to Spencer’s account in the amount of $2,500 the afternoon after she disappeared.  Spencer appeared to be having financial difficulties after frequent visits to a casino in North Carolina, including one visit to the casino early in the early morning hours before Cross went missing.

Cross’ deceased body was found in a rural area near Starr later that week. Her body was located wrapped in a blanket from her house in some bushes off the roadway approximately seven miles from Spencer’s Anderson County residence.  Investigator Pittman later searched for and found a trash can that appeared to have been tossed off a bridge into a creek. The trash can, found less than a half mile from Spencer’s residence in Starr, was identified as the one missing from Cross’ residence and ultimately was found to have blood that matched Cross’ DNA in the trash can.  Spencer’s truck GPS data revealed that he was at the victim’s house, the location where the body was found, and the location where the trash can was found at the bridge on the day Cross went missing.

Deputy Solicitor Josh Thomas and Senior Assistant Solicitor Jared Simmons presented the case to the jury for Solicitor Stumbo, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Joey Pittman and Sgt. Kendall Cash of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, and Laurens County Victim Advocate Joy Lindsay. Spencer was represented by 8th Circuit Public Defender Chelsea McNeill, along with attorneys Tristan Shaffer and Joel Broome of the Public Defender’s office.

Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his team and highlighted the outstanding investigative collaboration between the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, particularly lead investigators Pittman and Cash, in solving this case and delivering justice to Cross’ family and friends.   

“Timothy Spencer committed a crime that is as horrific and senseless as I have seen in over two decades in this profession,” Stumbo said following the sentencing. “Sheriff (Don) Reynolds and Sheriff (Chad) McBride should be proud of the way their deputies worked so seamlessly together to identify and arrest this perpetrator.  My prosecutors and I were honored to carry this case into the courtroom to make sure justice was done for Billie Jean.”

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