CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – Two days after a woman’s body was found, a prominent Charleston attorney sued the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office over its handling of the locally sensational missing person case. Attorney Andy Savage is a friend and spokesman for the family of Katherine Waring, 28, who disappeared on June 12 and whose body was found off a wooded trail on a coastal island last weekend.
Savage filed suit on Monday after sheriff’s deputies seized items from a private investigator Savage had hired to investigate the disappearance. The private investigator, William Capps, a retired Charleston police sergeant, found Waring’s body.
Savage says the Sheriff’s Office seized photographs, notes, and reports. Media reports added that deputies also seized Capps’ 1994 Jeep Cherokee.
Savage says the items are personal “work product” which the Sheriff’s Office converted for its own use.
He sued Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, seeking return of the items and unspecified damages.
Savage also seeks a temporary restraining order preventing authorities from viewing, using or sharing the seized items.
Though Charleston police headed the investigation of Waring’s disappearance, the Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over the site where the remains were found.
A hearing was held before Circuit Judge Thomas Houghston on Tuesday, but no details were immediately available.
Neither Savage, nor his counsel, Lauren Williams, could be reached for comment immediately after the hearing.
Major John Clark, spokesman for the Sheriff’s office, said that due to a gag order he was unable to comment.
Over the weekend, Savage complained to several local media outlets that he did not believe his investigators had been “handled decently” by the sheriff’s office.
“It’s hard to swallow the arrogance, as a citizen of this community,” Savage told WCIV, the local ABC-TV affiliate.
In the same report, Savage said his investigators developed information on Friday that pinpointed the location of Waring’s remains. The body was found 30 to 40 feet off a path near a residential development, close to where police had searcher earlier.
Savage said his investigators shared their information with deputies, inviting them to conduct a new search, but the invitation was declined.
After investigators found the remains, they immediately called 911 and guided police to the site, Savage said.
The Sheriff’s Office has declared the case a death investigation rather than a homicide investigation. Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten has not released a cause of death.
Waring’s last known activities on the day she disappeared were going to a gym, visiting a downtown drugstore, then eating at a local restaurant, Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse. Her cell phone and credit cards have not been used since.
Two suspects in a related case are still in custody. Heather Kamp and Ethan Mack were arrested a week ago on charges of lying to investigators and forging a check drawn on Waring’s account. They are believed to be among the last people to see the young woman alive. Each is being held on $200,000 bail.