Charges dropped against 4 in sailor's rape, killing in 1992

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped charges against all four people once accused of raping and killing a sailor based in South Carolina in 1992.

Authorities said in 2010 that a fellow sailor recruited the other three people to kill 22-year-old James Horton because Horton caught the sailor having gay sex.

Prosecutors had a confession from Charles Welty, who was one of the people charged, but it was wrong on a number of key details, including where Horton's body was dumped and how he was killed, according to documents obtained by The Post and Courier of Charleston.

"If one knew nothing about the facts surrounding Horton's murder, Welty's statement may seem like a solid, reliable confession," the documents stated. "However, when compared to the facts of the murder investigation, Welty's statement is so far off, it seems as though he may be talking about another incident all together."

Horton, of Sherburne, New York, was found hands tied behind his back with a gunshot wound to the chest in a watery ditch near Charleston in November of 1992. He was stationed at the former Charleston Naval Base, assigned to the ocean minesweeper Exultant.

Murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct charges were dropped against Welty, of Missoula, Mont.; Douglas Emery, 40, of Hemet, Calif.; and Konnie Jan Glidden, 38, of Goose Creek, as well as fellow sailor Thomas Solheim, of Montauk, New York. Solheim died in 2013.

Glidden's lawyer said investigators were overzealous in wanting to close a case unsolved for nearly two decades.

"My client has had murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct charges hanging over her head. It's taken a toll on her life. She's just thankful to have this all behind her and to move on with her life," attorney James Falk said.

Prosecutors wouldn't go so far as to say all the people charged were innocent, but said they couldn't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Welty's confession said Horton's body was dumped at a beach instead of in the ditch and said the sailor was beaten with a bat and statue, then shot in the head, when he was actually shot in the chest, prosecutors said.