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Army veteran went missing. Now her HVAC repairman is going to prison, SC prosecutor says

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)
April 30, 2024

A South Carolina man was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of the murder of a disabled U.S. Army veteran, according to the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

On Wednesday, following an eight-day trial in a Laurens County courtroom, 49-year-old Timothy Paul Spencer was convicted for the December 2021 murder of Billie Jean Cross, the solicitor’s office said in a news release.

Spencer was then sentenced to life behind bars, without the possibility of parole, according to the release.


On Dec. 10, 2021, Cross’ family members reported the 58-year-old disabled Army veteran missing, the solicitor’s office said. In a conversation with her mother the previous day, Cross said she was waiting on a HVAC repairman to fix the heat in her cold house and that she would call her mother back when the repairman left, according to the release.

Cross’ mother never received that call.

The following day, Cross’ mother and other family members met detectives at the veteran’s residence on Fairview Road south of Fountain Inn and they didn’t find Cross or any signs of forced entry, the solicitor’s office said.

Investigators did spot several small drops which appeared to be blood on the carpet near a chair where Cross was known to sit, according to the release. Investigators also noted that Cross’ rolling trash container was missing, the solicitor’s office said.

Cross was listed as missing and possibly endangered by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

The Investigation

Over the course of the ensuing week, investigators were able to use Cross’ bank records to identify Spencer as the HVAC repairman who went to Cross’ home, according to the release.

Subsequent search warrants for the victim’s phone data, Spencer’s phone data, and Spencer’s truck GPS records led investigators to the repairman, a resident of Anderson County, as being a prime suspect in the case, the solicitor’s office said.

Spencer denied any involvement, but was held on warrants in Greenville County stemming from fraud allegations surrounding his HVAC business, according to the release. Investigators also discovered a transaction using a phone app between Cross’ personal bank account to Spencer’s account in the amount of $2,500 the afternoon after she disappeared, the solicitor’s office said.

Spencer appeared to be having financial difficulties after frequent visits to a casino in North Carolina, including one visit to the casino early in the early morning hours before Cross went missing, according to the solicitor’s office.

Later that week, Cross’ body was found — wrapped in a blanket taken from her house — in bushes in a rural area about seven miles from Spencer’s Anderson County residence in the Starr area, the solicitor’s office said. Her body was discovered by a man and his son who were looking at property they were buying on Cummings Springs Road in Anderson County, The State previously reported.

An investigator later searched for and found a trash can that appeared to have been tossed off a bridge into a creek less than a half mile from Spencer’s home, according to the release. The trash can was identified as the one missing from Cross’ home and ultimately was found to have blood that matched Cross’ DNA in the trash can, the solicitor’s office said.

Spencer’s truck GPS data showed that he was at the victim’s house, the location where the body was found, and the location where the trash can was found at the bridge on the day Cross went missing, according to the release.

Information about a motive for the killing, and Cross’ cause of death were not available.


“Timothy Spencer committed a crime that is as horrific and senseless as I have seen in over two decades in this profession,” Solicitor David Stumbo said in the release.. My prosecutors and I were honored to carry this case into the courtroom to make sure justice was done for Billie Jean.”

Josh Thomas and Jared Simmons led the prosecution for the solicitor’s office, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Joey Pittman and Sgt. Kendall Cash of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, and Laurens County Victim Advocate Joy Lindsay.

Spencer was represented by 8th Circuit Public Defender Chelsea McNeill, along with attorneys Tristan Shaffer and Joel Broome of the Public Defender’s office.

The victim

Cross grew up in Greenville County, went to Mauldin High School and earned a degree in English and Spanish from Clemson University in 1985, The State previously reported.

She served four years in the U.S. Army at Fort Meade in Maryland as an electronic warfare signals intelligence analyst before working a number of office jobs in Greenville and Spartanburg counties. Cross served during Operation Just Cause in Panama, according to her obituary.

She married Larry Wayne Cross, a systems analyst and avid parachutist, in 1998, according to The State. They lived in his hometown in Nova Scotia for a few years before he died in 2015.

Cross, who was suffering from arthritis and used a walker, came back to Greenville and earned paralegal certification at Greenville Technical College and worked in a law office for a few months, The State reported.


© 2024 The State

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