MARLBORO COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — When the polls closed Tuesday night, Judge Mark Heath knew his days as the Marlboro County Probate Judge were over. Heath, first elected to the position in 1998, was beaten soundly in the June 14 Democratic primary.
Heath was unable to win a single precinct out of the 15 up for grabs in Tuesday night’s primary.
Election results show Heath collected 342 votes – 13.4% of the total – out of the 2,540 votes cast. Heath lost his seat to Reneka McQueen McCoy who won the primary with 50.4% of the vote, or 1,280 votes. There is no Republican challenger.
The primary result means Heath will no longer hold office when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2022.
The Marlboro County Board of Voter Registration and Elections confirmed Heath’s primary loss in a call Thursday. The board confirmed the probate election was confirmed final by state elections officials this week.
Heath became part of our ‘Final Disrespects’ investigation last fall after his deputy probate judge, Tammy Bullock, was accused of ransacking a dead man’s home in January 2021 looking for a will. The man, Hollis Slade, died after a sudden illness and multiple security cameras captured Bullock and others discussing searching Slade’s home for a will.
The recordings also show Bullock and the group talking about concealing financial information the found in Slade’s home from his family. The videos also show some in the group walking out of the Slade home with property – all while Slade’s wife was inside.
Slade’s wife, Joyce, suffers from dementia and requires full time care.
The family filed criminal complaints against Bullock and the group, accusing Bullock of impersonating a public official and the others of theft. Bullock, Slade’s family alleged, introduced herself as a probate judge, although Bullock was not sworn in at the time.
Heath had appointed Bullock as the county’s deputy probate judge at the time of Slade’s death. She wasn’t administered an oath until mid-March.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division initially declined to investigate the Slade family’s complaint, telling Queen City News Chief Investigator Jody Barr the acts depicted in the video recordings were a “civil matter.”
Slade’s neighbor, Bobby Norris, told QCN he reported the videos and the allegations concerning Bullock to Heath on Jan. 29. When we questioned Heath about Norris’ call Heath would not talk about the call, what Norris told him, or what action he took to address the complaint.
Bullock continued working at the probate office until Oct. 27 when she resigned “effective immediately.” Bullock’s resignation happened on the final day of the South Carolina Association of Probate Judges’ annual conference at a Myrtle Beach resort. We found Bullock’s Cadillac SUV at the conference on the first day, but could not find Bullock or her vehicle on the final two days of the conference.
We found Heath at the conference and attempted to interview him as he got onto an elevator. Heath would not speak with us and a few minutes later, we saw Heath and his wife loading their luggage into the car and got back on the highway to Marlboro County.
After we filed a South Carolina Freedom of Information Act with SLED requesting access to the Slade complaint, SLED denied the request claiming an exemption that allows agencies to block release of records while a criminal investigation is underway. SLED later claimed an internal “miscommunication” led to the agency telling QCN the Slade complaint was a “civil matter” and that the agency actually had an active investigation underway at the time.
When we last asked SLED and the South Carolina Attorney General for an update on the Slade investigation on April 29, the agency confirmed the investigations were still open. After SLED closes its investigation, the agency will submit the case file to the AG’s office for a prosecutor to determine whether anyone will face charges.