[Fox News] South Carolina true-crime podcast helps police make breakthrough in 50-year-old murder of ‘Mr. X’

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South Carolina authorities are crediting a local reporter with helping them make a major breakthrough in a 1975 cold-case murder.

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office on Monday revealed the identity of a murder victim named Oscar James Nedd, who was previously known only as Mr. X after a hunter found his body near Highway 20 and Blakely Road “wrapped in a sheet and smoldering, indicating it had been set on fire” in 1975.

“Sheriff Hobart Lewis credits Brad Willis’ podcast ‘Murder, Etc.’ for drawing attention to this case,” the sheriff’s office said in a Monday press release.

Willis, a former investigative reporter for WYFF-TV, went on to start the “Murder, Etc.” podcast in 2019 after he realized that his reporting as a young journalist may have helped keep the wrong man behind bars for a double murder in 1975, and he began digging.

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“I played a role in keeping a man in prison for a double murder. One … of the victims was a Greenville County deputy at the time, in 1975. And when I learned that [the convicted killer] had been paroled, I jumped on the story and ran it as quickly as I could without digging too deeply into it. And after I got that story out, the parole board subsequently revoked his parole, and he stayed in prison for another six years after that,” Willis told Fox News Digital.

During that six-year period, Willis said he was “given a lot of information and started doing a lot of research and came to the belief that the man” who had his parole revoked in the case “was likely innocent.”

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He eventually got in direct contact with that man and soon discovered that his story was much more complex than Willis could have ever imagined. Through his reporting, Willis learned that the Greenville Sheriff’s Office in 1975 was wrought with corruption and criminals employed as police officers.

“Today, Greenville is … a boutique community where people love to come. Back then, it was the Wild West, full of corruption, corrupt cops, murderers, hitmen, like the type of things you just don’t think about anymore,” Willis explained. “And this man who was relatively uneducated and had never had any criminal past of any sort was, all of a sudden on his way to death row [for the 1975 double murder].”

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While producing his podcast, which ended up being a 27-episode-long series, Willis aired an episode titled, “Greenville, We Have A Problem,” in which he digs into other unsolved murders that occurred in 1975 when all the internal corruption among law enforcement was supposedly taking place.

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“One of the things we decided on … as we dug a little bit deeper, was that it was going to be really important to start looking at all of the murders in Greenville County around that time,” Willis said. “And so we just decided to pick the entire year of 1975 and study exactly how all of those murders happened, and if they got solved. The very first murder victim found in 1975 was a man found down in the southern part of the county with his body still smoldering. He had been set on fire and wrapped in a comforter or a bedspread of some sort.”

That was Mr. X.

When Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis was running for election in 2020, he just so happened to be a regular listener of Willis’ podcast.

After being elected, Lewis made a plan to revitalize Greenville County’s cold-case unit. And on Monday, authorities were successfully able to identify Mr. X as Oscar James Nedd of White Plains, New York, who was 23 years old at the time of his murder, which the coroner’s office previously ruled a homicide by blunt force trauma and strangulation.

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The sheriff’s office exhumed Nedd’s body in July 2020 and then sent his skeletal remains to the National Unidentified and Missing Persons System (NAMUS) for DNA testing, and a profile was created for the victim, whose identity remained unknown until Monday.

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In February, the White Plains Police Department contacted Greenville County investigators “regarding a match with a missing person case they had been working on since 1975,” the sheriff’s office wrote. That individual was Nedd.

Authorities were able to contact Nedd’s family members, who confirmed his identity nearly 50 years after his death. The homicide case has since been transferred to the White Plains Police Department.

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Investigators believe Nedd was killed in White Plains and his body was dumped in South Carolina.

The White Plains Police Department did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital. Willis hopes the case will reach its conclusion after nearly 50 years without answers.

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“I know that there’s a suspect. I know that the White Plains police know that there is a suspect,” Willis said. “It’s … disappointing, I guess, is that the current investigators here can no longer work on the murder case because it’s not their murder. The body was believed to be dumped here. … I know that there are detectives who still care, and I know that there’s a family that would still like justice. I still think that there is room for this case to actually come to a conclusion after 50 years. It’s insane.”

Nedd was born in Georgia but moved to White Plains to pursue a college education, the press release stated.

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The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office cold-case unit has solved 11 cases since Lewis took office in 2020.

“The tireless work and innovative approaches employed by our investigators have brought closure to a case that has remained a mystery for nearly five decades,” Lewis said in a Monday statement. “Their determination to seek justice for victims and their families is truly commendable. I want to thank each member of our cold case unit for their hard work and commitment.”

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