Coroner releases cause of death for Murrells Inlet woman found dead on boat Friday


MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) – The woman who was found dead on a boat shortly after a fire at the Murrells Inlet bait shop she owned died from strangulation and head trauma, according to the Georgetown County Coroner’s Office.

The autopsy for Jessica Lynn Hill, 37, was performed on Saturday, September 30, states a news release from the coroner’s office. Hill’s body was found on-board a boat shortly after a fire at Perry’s Bait and Tackle on the Marshwalk. The case is still under investigation.

“She was very kind and always helpful. She loved her job and you can tell by the way she was. She just loved everybody that came in,” said bait shop customer Dale Stoker. “Everyone in the Inlet’s extremely sorry and condolences from us and everybody that came in.”

As a result of the investigation, Eric Justin Perry, 35, of Murrells Inlet, has been charged with one count of murder and one count of second-degree arson.

According to a press release from the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a fire at Perry’s Bait and Tackle, located at 3965 U.S. 17 Business, in Murrells Inlet at 10 a.m. Friday.

Witnesses told police they saw a man leaving the area in a small boat shortly after the fire, the release stated. The GCSO’s marine patrol unit, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard began a search.

At 1 p.m., search teams reportedly found the boat and the man in question, the release stated. That man was said to be Perry.

Additionally, the woman’s body was found onboard.

A boater named Dan Morgan took to Facebook Live on Friday and showed footage of law enforcement taking the suspect into custody while on the water.

Morgan said he is a certified rescue diver and medic first aid, and normally assists DNR and Department of Health and Environmental Control agents with apprehending wildlife and natural resource violators.

He said he is extremely familiar with the inlet, and that the suspect was located in the area of Huntington Beach State Park, on the backside of Drunken Jack Island.

The Facebook page for Perry’s Bait and Tackle now has a call for prayers out for Jessica, and asks that people keep her three children in their thoughts and prayers as well.

The post states, “we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your business and the love expressed over the years.”

Information on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s online business entities database lists Jessica Hill as the registered agent for Perry’s Bait and Tackle LLC.

Anyone with information is asked to call the GCSO at (843) 546-5102.

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