Greer, South Carolina, May 16, 2003, 1:30 p.m.: An alarm call goes out from the Blue Ridge Savings Bank of a possible robbery in progress.

Police are dispatched immediately, and quickly swarm the scene. Outside, there are no signs anything is amiss, but what they find inside will shake even the most seasoned officers to the core.

"They did a search of the bank, one end of bank they didn't see anybody, they walked back to other side of the bank. And then they found the three victims inside the bank," said Greer Police Captain Matt Hamby.

Open less than a year, the little green trailer that was the Blue Ridge Savings Bank was relatively new to town.

But its teller, Sylvia Holtzclaw, was an institution: a Greer native, born and raised.

"She was the most kind-hearted, givingest person I've ever known," said David Holtzclaw, Sylvia's son. "Loved her community, loved kids, loved what she does. Her friends would tell you she would talk for hours. She just enjoyed being around people. I don't know of a better person than her."

It's right around lunchtime when Sylvia gets the call to cover for a co-worker.

At the same time, across town, local teachers Eb and Maggie Barnes were getting ready to head to the bank to move some money into their IRA account. Eb had retired a short time before, and at almost 62 years old, was looking forward to the next phase of his life.

Three separate lives, about to converge in the worst possible way.

"There was a magnetic lock that had been serviced quite a few times, it was having some difficulties, and I believe on the day of the incident she had made a call to request a repair of the magnetic door," said Capt. Hamby.

Sometime after that, Eb and Maggie hop in their truck and begin the short drive to the bank, unaware that someone else with very different plans was driving just three minutes ahead of them.

Then, 30 minutes past 1 p.m., Greer Police were contacted by an alarm company about an alarm at the bank. A police officer was dispatched one minute later.

"Many of the alarms that we get, period, are false alarms or accidental activation of the alarm, so we had no idea exactly what we were looking at when we were responding to that alarm," said Greer Police Lt. Eric Pressley.

But soon, it all becomes horrifically clear.

"I was one of probably the second or third, maybe fourth folks to get there, and I went in and made a quick look throughout the bank, looked in one area, didn't see anything, went to another area and was shown where the bodies were," said Lt. Pressley.

Huddled in a back room, police find Sylvia, Eb and Maggie shot to death with the same .40-caliber Glock.

Almost immediately, police realize the killer can't be far away.

"At that time they secured the crime scene and we contacted the forensics divisions and multiple law enforcement agencies came to assist," said Hamby.

But police aren't quite sure what to make of the scene. Little money has been taken, and other than knowing the kind of gun that killed the victims, they find few clues.

It was Greer, South Carolina's first-ever triple homicide.

Hours after the murders, police get their first break: A surveillance video from a convenience store down the street.

"Approaching the bank at around 1:24 p.m., the Barnes family was seen driving three minutes later to the bank," said Hamby.

The red vehicle was seen driving away from the bank after the incident occurred.

Based on that timeline, police believe the man in the red car entered the bank to rob Sylvia, then got surprised by Eb and Maggie minutes later.

"We think the motive was robbery and we think the perpetrator lost control of the incident in the bank and panicked, most likely, and determined that he was going to shoot and kill three victims," said Hamby.

Though the video is grainy, using NASA technology, investigators are able to determine a few possible makes and models for the red car, including an Oldsmobile Alero.

Not long after that, they learn a red Alero was stolen from a nearby rental lot shortly before the murders. And they know who stole it.

"It was stolen by a person by the name of Emmerson Wright," said Hamby. "He used his sister's vehicle to crash through a fence where the rental cars were stored. He stole the red Alero, and this occurred two weeks before the Blue Ridge Savings Bank triple homicides."

When police look into Wright's background, they find a long rap sheet filled with strong-arm robberies, and his weapon of choice in many of his crimes was a .40-caliber Glock.

Emmerson Wright becomes an official person of interest, but finding him proves difficult. Then, one year after the bank shootings, he suddenly turns up.

"Emmerson Wright entered a checkpoint that was being conducted by the Georgia State Police," said Hamby. "He fled the area and a vehicle pursuit followed. He crashed the car, got out and ran. He was not apprehended.

"Two years after the incident, he was in another car chase with the Georgia State Police. He was wanted for a series of burglaries in the Atlanta area. As a result of that vehicle chase, he crashed his car, got out on the side of the road, and killed himself by a single gunshot wound to the head in front of a state trooper."

And with that shot, police lose their most promising lead.

"That's a door that was closed to us, not being able to ever interview someone that we considered a person of interest in the crime was very frustrating to us," said Pressley. "I think he's the best person we have to look into. I can't say that he committed the murders. We need some more information. Someone out there knows something."

"This time we don't have any other suspects," said Hamby. "We've had lots of leads get called in and all the leads have pretty much been followed up on and we've not developed a suspect."

"Even today we are still following leads and we continue investigate it to its fullest."

During their investigation, police did look into whether or not this tragic shooting was connected to a quadruple homicide that happened just months later and just 30 miles away at Superbike Motorports, in Chesnee, South Carolina. However, currently they don't appear to be connected.

If you have information related to this investigation, contact the Greer Police Department at (864) 848-2151, or submit a tip to Crime Watch Daily.

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