PICKENS, S.C. — A convicted sex offender spotted a college student outside her South Carolina apartment two years ago, then slipped through her patio door and raped and strangled her, leaving the bikini top still wrapped around her neck, according to a confession revealed during his guilty plea Tuesday.
Jerry Buck Inman, 37, admitted to authorities shortly after his June 2006 arrest that he raped and killed 20-year-old Tiffany Marie Souers of Ladue, Mo., but his statements to police were not made public until Tuesday.
Inman could face the death penalty when he is sentenced Sept. 8. A defense psychiatrist testified that's exactly what he wants.
"He wishes to die for what he's done," said Dr. Donna Schwartz-Watts, a forensic psychiatrist with the University of South Carolina. "He has consistently stated that."
The psychiatrist said Inman takes medication for a mood disorder, but "he absolutely knows what he's doing."
The Clemson University engineering student's body was discovered May 26, 2006, at her apartment just a few miles from this campus in rural northwestern South Carolina.
Authorities said Inman's DNA matched samples taken from Souers' apartment, and he was arrested during a nationwide manhunt near his mother's home in Dandridge, Tenn., about two weeks after Souers' body was found.
Inman, bald with tattoos on his neck, both arms and chest, still appeared menacing in court despite handcuffs and shackles. He stared straight ahead during much of the court hearing, biting his lip as he answered yes or no to basic questions.
Inman also faces charges in the attempted rape of a 24-year-old woman in Rainsville, Ala., and in the rape of a 28-year-old woman in Sevierville, Tenn.
Authorities have said those crimes occurred in the days leading up to Souers' death.
Inman said everything in handwritten confessions he gave to police shortly after his arrest were true.
"I did not go there to kill her. I don't want to talk about the sex part, but I did have sex with her," he wrote.
Inman wrote that he knew Souers would recognize him, so he killed her. He bound and strangled her with what he found in her room.
"I knew Tiffany was dead because she stopped struggling," he wrote.
Inman spent about 18 years in prison in North Carolina and Florida for rapes committed in those states as a teenager. He was free for about nine months before his June 2006 arrest.
In his confession, Inman wrote he was living with a cousin at the time and "was not adjusting well to being out of jail, so I decided to get away."
Inman, who finished the eighth grade and previously worked construction, wrote that he'd run out of money when he reached Clemson and was "looking for some place to rob." He said he spotted Souers on her front porch earlier in the day, then drove around until nearly 1 a.m., went in through her patio door and woke her up.
Prosecutor Bob Ariail said Inman later tried to use Souer's credit card six times at two different bank ATM machines but didn't enter the correct personal identification number. In his statements, Inman said Souer's had given him her PIN, but he'd forgotten it.