Just hours after James Vinton fatally shot the owner of the H&R Block on Main Street, the shooter’s wife Bevin blamed COVID-19 for making him crazy.
Fort Mill Police investigators sat down with Bevin Vinton on Aug. 31, just moments after her husband killed her mother, tried to shoot her sister and then stuck a gun in his mouth inside the downtown tax business.
The interview shows Bevin knew that her husband had fantasized about killing members of her family. It also sheds light on her husband’s struggle to control his temper and find the right medications and treatment.
Police say James convinced his wife to take him to H&R Block under the pretense of an apology to her mother for vandalizing her property. It was just a day before the 39-year-old man was supposed to start treatment at Three Rivers Behavioral Health, a psychiatric facility in West Columbia, S.C. Moments after apologizing to Deborah Buchanan, he pulled a gun and shot her repeatedly. He then tried to kill his sister-in-law Crispin Metcalf before turning the gun on himself.
In Part 3 of the Sun’s review of the Fort Mill case, read the highlights of Bevin’s revealing interview as provided in police transcripts. In their first question, investigators asked Bevin to help them understand what had just happened at H&R Block. Her answers are in italics.
“He’s (Jimmy Vinton) been trying to go talk to a psychologist. It’s been going on all COVID, but the psychologists the last two or three weeks just changed his meds every week. And it made him go crazy and obsess. He was still obsessing about what was going on and just thought that my mother just treated me horribly all the time and didn’t care about me. Didn’t love me. He thought all of that. But he’s been obsessing over it the last two weeks. And he went and destroyed property of my mom’s. …
“I found a place for him, a psychiatric hospital for him to go to, Three Rivers in Columbia, but they said the first appointment wasn’t until tomorrow. And my husband said he was feeling better and he wanted to apologize to my mom for everything that he did. So, he apologized and then I asked if either of them had any more questions. And he asked her why she wouldn’t tell him what was in her will. And she told him because it wasn’t pertinent to this discussion. … He came back and in and said, ‘Since you answered my question wrong…’ and something about that not being right.
“And he reached into his book bag cocked his revolver, at which point I said we’ve got to go. And he stopped listening and pointed it at my mom. And I grabbed the gun and I told him to stop and get out and he pushed me down, and he shot my mother. And he reached into his book bag and got out his semi-automatic. And went out the door and tried to shoot my sister. All the while I was screaming at him to stop. And then he walked into the office he died in and looked at me with the evilest eyes, and then put the gun in his mouth and shot himself. At which point I started screaming and I called 911 and I told them what happened and told them to please hurry because my mom was still barely breathing.
“And I ran outside of the back door and I called my sister because she was a paramedic and y’all made her leave my mother. So that’s why I need to be arrested because I took him up there and I didn’t leave when he said we needed to go. I should have, I believed he was feeling better and wanted to apologize. And I believed him. I need to call his parents.”
Bevin was NOT arrested. But an investigator asked her about James’ appointment the next day at the psychiatric facility. During her answer, Bevin said she never believed he would shoot anyone.
“I grabbed the gun and he pushed me. My mother didn’t believe he would shoot her either. Because she stayed in her chair and gave him something to aim at instead of ducking. He just said he wanted to apologize. There were always fights between him and my family. They always got resolved one way or another. This past year, I decided that my husband wouldn’t interact with my family at all. And I was trying to get everything together so we could move in the next 6 months to a year. Because I knew it wasn’t healthy for him to be here.”
Officers asked Bevin to elaborate about her mother’s will, which had made her husband so angry.
“He wanted to make sure that I was taken care of. He had this notion in his head, some of which was true, that I always get s**t on. … And he always thought that my mom didn’t take care of me, that I was an afterthought, that my sister was the golden child, that my mom gave more to my sister and her kids and he thought that wasn’t right, that everything should be equal. No matter how many times I told him that’s her money she can do what she wants with it, he never, he always just filed it away to still talk about it. I mean, COVID, over the past three weeks he’s just been obsessing over all the wrongs that have been done to him.”
Officers asked Bevin if her husband had been talking about killing her mom at any other time since they had been married.
“Oh yeah, when he got angry and on a tangent, he would talk about killing my mother. It always just seemed to be part of the conversation. I never believed it. I started to believe it last week when he did the property damage which is why I got him the appointment to go into Three Rivers.”
During questions about the guns, Bevin said she didn’t know he had two guns with him when they went inside the tax business.
“He had the backpack with him. He always keeps his backpack with him and he usually keeps his weapons in it but I asked him to leave his weapons at home. And he said he did.”
Bevin seemed to have a revelation when officers asked her more about her husband’s obsession with her mother’s will. Since her mother was in good health, there was no reason for the will to be brought up, an investigator suggested.
“Yeah. There isn’t any reason for the will to be brought up except that he was running it around in his mind. He wanted to make sure that I was taken care of if he got locked up in the crazy bin or something. I can only assume that he was trying to look out for me. I don’t know, he’s just an a**hole.”
An investigator asked if James had mentioned anything lately about suicidal thoughts.
“Yeah, and he was talking about killing my mother and my sister like last week with the damage to her car and everything. He’s been wanting to harm others, he said he didn’t want to harm himself but that’s obviously not true. … It was usually when we were fighting with my family that he mentioned it. He would tell me about what his fantasy was like – if he got COVID he would take out these people before he dies. Okay, yeah, whatever. He’s been always saying that.”
Bevin revealed that her husband wanted to get into the psychiatric facility sooner but could not.
“We were talking about divorce but he said he didn’t want a divorce because he loved me. I told him well then he’d have to go into the psychiatric hospital. This morning, he did say he wished he could go into the psychiatric hospital today. He did say that. His appointment was tomorrow at 5 o’clock. We called Saturday morning to Three Rivers and that was the first appointment they had.”
Then she placed the blame on the pandemic.
“COVID made him crazy. Sitting in a room while I still had to go to work because I was a social worker, sitting in a room, smoking cigars and trying all those meds just made him crazy. It made him overthink everything to the point where he started remembering things wrong. Had his own spin on things. … That’s why he was going to Three Rivers. And I never should have believed him when he said he was only coming up to apologize to my mom. I should’ve waited and that’s my fault. My sister is… I didn’t know, he said he was just going to apologize. I grabbed the gun, I didn’t know. He was looking straight at me when he pulled the trigger in his mouth. With these hate-filled eyes, he was so angry.”
Officers asked Bevin if her husband had been diagnosed with anything.
“For anger issues, he’d actually been on some mood stabilizer. Some type of crazy pill since he was 17 and he was really trying to get off of them and talk to a psychologist and get better. And the psychologist she was slowly bumping him up to something and he just kept getting angrier. And I told them, he’s just getting angrier. So she added a mood stabilizer and that didn’t help. So she added something else and that didn’t help. Within the last three weeks, they changed the medication 3 or 4 times.”