Friday, March 14, 2008

John and Liz Calvert The Death of Dennis Gerwing

The biggest story in Hilton Head since….. well forever continues. While it competes with the “Idiot Spitzer” story in New York, the search for John and Liz Calvert continues to gain national attention.

Reporters from the Associated Press, Fox and CNN as well as local and regional media were in attendance at Thursday morning’s press conference held by Sheriff P.J. Tanner on the steps of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.


Above: Sheriff Tanner tells reporters that Dennis Gerwing slashed his own inner thigh but leaves out that he was also stabbed in the chest several times. Photo: Island Packet

Tuesday’s tragic turn of events, the apparent suicide of Dennis Gerwing, at first seemed to present clear cut answers. But during the last 24 hours more questions have emerged. Learning early Thursday from Sheriff P.J. Tanner that Mr. Gerwing had killed himself by simply slashing his inner thigh with a knife, a process that that many describe as painful and agonizingly slow.

But late Thursday it became known that Mr. Gerwing had "multiple" stab wounds as well as a gash on his inner thigh. The autopsy report also stated that Gerwing had been dead about 12 hours when he was found placing the time of death around 4AM, a source told The State newspaper in Columbia.

Makes you wonder why the Beaufort County Sheriff was "spinning" the story and twisting the facts in the first place.

In the "suicide notes" that have not be released, Grewing appears to admit that he stole from the Calverts. If Mr. Gerwing had embezzled funds from the Calvert’s, what amount of money would make someone who by many accounts was not capable of violence suddenly embrace violence as the only solution, one million dollars, ten million dollars or more?

I suspect most people would just lawyer up and plan on spending some time at Camp Martha. Unpleasant, sure, but to bloody one's hand out of greed doesn’t seem to fit the profile of Mr. Gerwing.

If Mr. Gerwing is responsible for what happened to the Calverts then what was his step two? Clearly Mr. Gerwing knew the Calverts would be immediately missed, and how do you dispose two people and move their car all by yourself?

Was this a well planned plot with still to be discovered accomplices or a sudden desperate act to cover up something bigger than just financial misdeeds?

The whole series of events is shocking. The only thing certain at this point is that John and Liz are missing and they are good people and so are the people that work for them.

But did Dennis Gerwing bring this tragic chain of events to the otherwise quiet Hilton Head Island Community all by himself or were there others involved? Was he capable of killing the Calverts, disposing their bodies, hiding the evidence and then stabbing himself to death? Why would he admit to theft but not admit to the greater crime. Why not add a statement as to the whereabouts of the Calverts?

What other fact is the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office covering up?

Will anyone else turn up missing or stab themselves to death?

What deep secrets did Mr. Gerwing take to the grave?

It seems this story is far from over as every day there are more and more questions. I expect this morning's press conference will be pretty interesting.


Anonymous said...

Facts about suicide methods

56% use firearms
24% use hanging
13% use poisoning
7% other

Suicide by cutting
85% wrist

Rare accounts of multiple chest and leg cutting for suicide
this is slow and painful
The forensic autopsy at MUSC should prove buy the patterns of the stabbings if Gerwing’s death was a homicide or suicide

Where is David Caruso when you need him?

Lois L.

Anonymous said...

“Investigators are in a holding pattern, he said, awaiting analysis of two handwritten notes found with Gerwing’s body. As of yet, they’re not sure whether they were written by Gerwing”.

“But Tanner did confirm that authorities consider Gerwing’s death a suicide”.

“We don’t suggest anything other than that,” he said.

On one hand, Sheriff Tanner confirms that they consider Gerwing’s death a suicide and on the other hand they’re not sure whether the handwritten notes were written by Gerwing. Go figure?

Anonymous said...

The public needs to seriously question the judgement and competence of Sheriff Tanner in this case.

Tanner, after examining a dead body with serious stabs wounds to the chest and inner thigh determines that it was a suicide.

The message from Tanner was that Gerwing has a cut to his inner thigh and no mention of the chest stab wounds. That’s alarming that he immediately summed this up as suicide.

In light of this UNBELIEVEABLE OMMISSION of not announcing ALL of the stab wounds and then to go as far declaring Dennis Gerwing’s death a SUICIDE?

One has to ask what else is Sheriff Tanner covering up or omitting?

Can anyone say MURDER? This is no more a suicide than me flying to the moon. You can’t trust this Sheriff now.

Given this UNBELIEVEABLE OMMISSION, By Sheriff Tanner. The public needs to question the competence and ethics of our Head Solicitor Duffie Stone. Given that Solicitor Stone was at the crime scene and he was giving legal advice the Sheriff Tanner and other investigators. Also, what about the coroner? It appears that he just played along as well.

The public should demand a replacement for the Sheriff Tanner for this investigation and also request that the Solicitor NOT be allowed to interfere with this investigation.

The Chief SLED should remove Sheriff Tanner from this the investigation.

Anonymous said...


As Dr. Phil would say, when you find a RAT there are FIFTY MORE that you don’t see.

There are rats everywhere!

Anonymous said...


“Authorities are treating it as a self-inflicted death”? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

“His body had a gash across his inner thigh, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and multiple knife wounds to the chest, a source told The State.

“Authorities are treating it as a self-inflicted death, though they acknowledge the circumstances of the apparent suicide are odd, The State reported”.


A self-inflicted death? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

…OMG! Someone please help us!


Anonymous said...

The Beaufort County Sheriff, in all his Machiavellian glory, has decided that withholding all but the most obvious evidence from the public is the best way to solve the mystery.

But is it the best means of locating John and Liz? Why haven’t the media questioned the judgment of the Sheriff in his handling of the case, which appears to grow more and more stale by the hour?

The so called “press conference” that was held today just reinforces speculation that the Sheriff is a control freak who is incapable of properly handling this case. John and Liz deserve better.


Anonymous said...


Watch the WTOC VIDEO and then watch the Island packet VIDEO. The part about Gerwing’s Attorney’s was cut-out of the middle of the Island Packet VIDEO, i.e. the part about who is or was Dennis Gerwing’s Attorneys, i.e. Criminal Defense Attorney Cory Fleming…hint!….hint!

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office - Hilton Head Island, SC

UPDATE: BCSO News Conference on John and Elizabeth Calvert’s Disappearance

WTOC VIDEO: BCSO News Conference on Calvert Disappearance&vt1=v&at1=News&d1=701067&LaunchPageAdTag=News&activePane=info&playerVersion=1&hostPageUrl=

Video: Watch today’s press conference with Sheriff Tanner

earlcapps said...

I could be completely wrong on this ... but what if the two were unrelated.

What if the guy had been embezzling and figured the investigation into their disappearance would have led to him, and his suicide was only conicidental?

The irony of having the perfect scam going - the ability to skim here and there, owners who don't notice ... and then this happens?

Someone caught embezzling certainly would be a prime suspect, because they had a motive. That's in addition to facing a few years in prison.

In any event, it makes a case like this just a little stranger.

Anonymous said...

Reported by the Beaufort Gazette on March 5, but the incident occured on March 3 the night the Calverts disappeared. Did David Nelson witness a crime being committed? Is this where the Calverts were taken? Has this murder been solved?

Beaufort Gazette - March 5, 2008:

RIDGELAND — A Ridgeland man was found dead Tuesday morning in his bullet-ridden car just down the street from his home on Knowles Island Road, according to Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls.

David Wayne Nelson, 43, was driving in reverse when he was shot multiple times with a .45-caliber automatic pistol, Sauls said.

His vehicle was spotted on the road by a passing motorist, he said. When police arrived around 6:30 a.m., they found Nelson slumped over the wheel, Sauls said.

Anonymous said...

UPDATE: Dennis Gerwing and Attorney Dan Saxon


“Attorney Dan Saxon and another Attorney Peter J. Strauss of (Novit & Scarminach), went to the villa where Gerwing was staying. They called Mark King, president of The Club Group, which manages the complex, to unlock the villa when no one answered the door”.

“The three(Saxon, Strauss, and King) entered and encountered another locked door upstairs, said Scarminach, who wasn’t with them. They then called 911 when they heard no response”.

MARCH 12, 2008
Gerwing left two notes that are being studied by investigators with the State Law Enforcement Division. Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner declined to reveal the notes’ contents or the method of suicide.

MARCH 13, 2008

With the help of King, the men unlocked the front door and walked upstairs. When they encountered another locked door and could get no one to answer, attorney Dan Saxon called 911. The men never saw Gerwing’s body or his last written words, Scarminach said.

MARCH 14, 2008

“Gerwing’s body was found after his attorney Dan Saxon went to his condo. Saxon told The Associated Press he found the bathroom door locked and a suicide note on the bed. He said he did not know exactly what the note said”.

“We saw one note. I didn’t spend a lot of time reading the note at all,” he said, adding that he was busy calling police.


What’s interesting about this is that it was originally reported that TWO suicide notes were found in the locked bathroom by Law Enforcement and emergency responses personnel. In other words, “The men(Saxon, Strauss, and King) never saw Gerwing’s body or his last written words”

NOW, Attorney Saxon found the bathroom door locked and a suicide note on the bed. He said he did not know exactly what the note said”. …”We saw one note. I didn’t spend a lot of time reading the note at all,”

What is also interesting is that it has been reported all along that there were TWO sucide notes and Attorney Saxon is saying now “We saw one note” not in the bathroom but on the bed and by the way “I didn’t spend a lot of time reading the note at all,”

Does this means that Attorney Saxon’s hands may have been on this note, is that what he wants everyone to believe? …just for reading purposes? …but not for reading very much, just a little reading? Or did he read the note without touching it? Keep in mind that Attorney Saxon is an Attorney and Attorney Strauss is an Attorney and both on the crime scene first. I think it’s fair to say that the Attorney’s would know what to do and what not to do regarding a crime scene and how to handle evidence.

It seems that these stories are changing with the wind.

Anonymous said...

Port of Port Royal sale falls through

Tom Gardo, who represents Port Royal Harbour, said in a news release today that the company couldn’t afford the property in the time allotted.

“Port Royal Harbour and its financial partners were fully prepared to move forward, but unfortunately in the chaos of today’s financial markets across the United States, the parties were not able to secure the kind of funding necessary to complete the transaction,” he said.



“Club Group Ltd. representative Tom Gardo (see Gerwing Coworker Shocked by Disappearance, Suicide) was also at the news conference listening in, hoping to hear some answers. “There is no leads or they don’t have any more progress,” said Gardo.

“Tom Gardo says the group is cooperating with investigators and will continue to provide whatever they need. In the meantime, they are grieving the loss of longtime coworker and friend Dennis Gerwing”.


“Tom Gardo, who represents Port Royal Harbour, said in a news release today that the company couldn’t afford the property in the time allotted”.


RE: Dennis Gerwing and the Disappearance of John and Liz Calvert of Hilton Head Island, SC

Anonymous said...

Four Attorneys, a King, a Solicitor and Dennis Gerwing

Attorney Dan Saxon
Attorney Peter J. Strauss
Mark King, President of The Club Group
Attorney Charles A. Scarminach
Attorney Cory Fleming, Criminal Defense
Solictor Duffie Stone
Dennis Gerwing, CFO of the Club Group - Deceased

“Dan Saxon, an attorney who represents “The Club Group” and had previously served as Dennis Gerwing’s attorney until the matter escalated outside of his firm’s expertise”. There are two operative words here, one is “previously” represented Gerwing and the other is “represents the Club Group”.

"Dan Saxon’s Hilton Head law firm, Novit & Scarminach, referred Dennis Gerwing to a criminal defense attorney, Cory Fleming of Beaufort". AMAZING? “The two (Saxon and Gerwing) last spoke Monday”, Saxon said.

“On Monday afternoon, Cory Fleming called Dan Saxon’ Law firm (Novit & Scarminach) when he was unable to reach Dennis Gerwing, said Attorney Chuck Scarminach”.

"Attorney Dan Saxon and another Attorney Peter J. Strauss of (Novit & Scarminach), went to the villa where Gerwing was staying. They called Mark King, president of The Club Group, which manages the complex, to unlock the villa when no one answered the door".

“The three(Saxon, Strauss, and King) entered and encountered another locked door upstairs, said Scarminach, who wasn’t with them. They then called 911 when they heard no response”.

“Cory Fleming, the defense attorney, said Wednesday that he continues to represent Gerwing”. “His law firm is cooperating with authorities “to the extent we’re allowed to under the law,” said Fleming.

“What interesting is that Criminal Defense Attorney Cory Fleming of Beaufort continues to represent Gerwing”. REALLY? Surely by now, someone has told Attorney Fleming that Mr. Gerwing is deceased. Given that Fleming was unable to reach Gerwing on Monday, it’s unclear if Fleming even has authorization to represent deceased Gerwing or his estate at this point. Does Fleming have some kind of signed Power of Attorney or some other legal document signed by Gerwing that authorizes Fleming to continue to represent Gerwing?

“14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said he is receiving frequent briefings on the case and is providing legal advice to investigators”. Is this normal? You have a Solicitor receiving briefings on an ongoing investigation by FBI, SLED, BCSO? Is this normal for a Solicitor to give ongoing legal advice to the FBI, SLED, and BCSO during an investigation?

“The Club Group” lawyer(s) on Monday and this whole Criminal Defense Attorney Fleming thing happening and calling and speaking to the “Law Firm” yet never speaking with his client on Monday? WHAT? THIS MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL!

For Attorney Saxon and the Novit & Scarminach Law Firm to supposedly hand over their client Dennis Gerwing to Attorney Fleming is bizzarro-weirdo. Also, you can bet that Fleming just might exercise his Attorney-Client Privilege which may in turn impede the investigation. It’s worth looking into to see if he actually has that privilege. The fact that Fleming was called in by “The Firm” that represents the “The Club Group” speaks volumes about this case.

Also, WHY DID Attorney Dan Saxon, Attorney Peter J. Strauss, and Mark King go into Dennis Gerwing's Condo KNOWING THAT HE WAS A "PERSON OF INTEREST"?


Four Attorney’s, a King, a Solictor and Dennis Gerwing


UPDATE: BCSO News Conference on John and Elizabeth Calvert's Disappearance


Anonymous said...

It seems somewhat interesting that someone would commit suicide in the way that Mr. Gerwig did. The number and location of non-fatal cuts, and the pain that those would have generated, well, it seems an awful lot to me like murder, rather than self-inflicted. The flip side is that there is alot of blood in the room apparently, meaning that anyone else in the room would have needed to ultimately restrain Gerwig. Thus, biological and fiber transfer would have occurred. The wounds are curious. Isn't is somewhat difficult to slash yourself TWICE behind your neck with sufficient force to sever the large vessels to the brain?

Ultimately, every murder is about money or possession of something, be it money, a woman or some item. War is simply murder writ large for the possession of a land area. However, in this case, it would seem money is the root of the evil. Is it money laundering? Or theft of money?

It could be the Calvert's were just innocent dupes who stumbled on to something that Gerwig was doing. Or, they directed a scheme that lead to their deaths. People sometimes think they can steal from theives for whom they launder money because it is not as if the crook is gonna call the police. However, there are different forms of justice available.

My guess - some kind of money laundering scheme. Sophisticated crooks who know about phones being GPS or signal tracked, turned it all off. The Calverts were acosted by someone they knew or who surprised them and forced them into a vehicle and then literally fed them to the fishes. Old tactic, no body, no crime. Maybe its the mafia is my genes but thats how I'd do it. They own a marina, boats come in and out, they have a obligation to report certain things, a cash business, look the other way. This is not brain surgery.

What are their finances like? Did they buy and new cars, pay off the airplane? Hopefully the police have all those records. Being a cop does NOT require a whole lot of detailed brain power since crimes are emotional event, not deep intellectual efforts for the most part. Anyone of moderately normal intellect can figure out most crimes if they remain a little suspicious of human nature- and there are no dull detectives - they are all too familiar with human nature.

My guess is that Gerwig was the mastermind using the Calverts company to launder - remember - lots of cash can come into a big fancy top notch marina legitimately. That gives you lots of ability to clean up dirty money. Something tells me that the Calverts did not take a boat out to sea and meet up with a round the world cruise ship and sail off into the moonrise. Gerwig was relatively new, and could change accounting and bookkeeping to hide laundering money for a quite some time. However, whomever set this up did not count on a transactional business lawyer figuring it out - they obviously thought she was little miss rich Hilton Head / Savannah housewife whose goal in life was the next fancy party and spending money.

Gerwig either decided to skim a little, or misled his conspirators as to what the Calvert's knew. The Calverts got fed to the fish because they ran the place and perhaps were ignorant or had just discovered what was going down. Gerwig died the way he did, because thats how the Colombians and Jamaicans do business when double crossed.

Look, if it ain't money, its drugs. Boat A goes out every weekend for a spin in the ocean and a little charter fishing - the fishing for fish stops and the fishing for little floating garbage bags begins. Boats keeps coming in and out and no one is suspicious until perhaps they notice the boat keeps taking the same guys out fishing and they don't look like fishermen if you know what I mean.

You could put me on a horse, but I would never look like a cowboy. Capiche?

Anyway, money or drugs, take your pick. This area has too much easy access to the ocean and too long of a history with drug running. If the Calverts were eliminated, cause they really did not know what was going on in their business and the crooks needed to remove a law-abiding obstacle, and Gerwig was stealing or perhaps hiding money looking for a better deal, this ALL makes a TON of sense. Gerwig murdering the Calverts and then, when the law closes in, killig himself in the way that he did, makes zero sense. This is South Carolina, he could have gone to a pawn shop and left with a gun the same day. No need to try to kill himself with a serrated steak knife. Heck, he could have wired money to the Bahamas and taken a charter out of Hilton Head before Tanner even suspected.

The only way this one adds up to a cynical student of human nature is if Gerwig was involved somehow, and was murdered. The link is there, the investigators just have not clicked on it yet. When they do, it'll make perfect sense to the armchair detectives sitting on the sidelines who have no responsibility for the crime other than throwing stones at the detectives doing the hard work. I imagine there are literally tons of paper and electronic records to wade through and there have been other crims in Beaufort County since this happened. . . .

Anonymous said...

The Calverts ran a marina and managed vacation homes.

Gerwing handled their books and apparently some or all of the money.

Gerwing's company manages vacation rentals.

Marinas are easy ports of entry for Chupurdy for instance.

Vacation rentals are somewhat seasonal and money could be laundered by falsely filling in rental dates during slow periods, paid for of course. Maintenance costs could be padded as well.

Marina charges could be inflated to launder more money.

Somebody gets greedy and/or sloppy.

The heat is on and the operation may have been under investigation.

Two of the players either get to close to the truth or were involved all along and under scrutiny. They are "disappeared", kidnapped, possibly killed, or swept off in the dark of night into the Witness Protection Program (which I doubt would be told to local authorities).

One of the players ends up dead carved up like Christmas turkey...either by his own hand or someone elses. Perhaps by yet unknown players who feel slighted.

There seems to be a greater effort than we normally see in this area when someone comes up missing. That would lead one to think that this is a special case for some reason or another. It appears that this is deeper and more complicated than the typical case of this type. That would certainly explain the limited release of information. If it turns out to be a large tentacled beast the authorities would make sure not to compromise the case with too much information.

As revolting as the thought is, I do agree with UnderTheCovers that this will probably turn out to be much bigger than a typical disappearance. I don't however agree that the Sheriff should release any sensitive information until it is appropriate to do so without jeopardizing the case.

Anonymous said...

Garry Chupurdy, if you recall Sheriff Tanner said that it was the biggest drug bust in Beaufort since “Operation Jackpot” in the 1970’s.

As you may recall, Mike Mlay of Hilton Hilton, a golf Pro, was indicted at the same time as Chupurdy, but he wasn’t sentenced. What has happened to Mike Mlay?

What I also find interesting is that Dennis Gerwing was cooperating in the beginning, i.e. a (4) four hour interview with investigators. As the story goes, Attorney Dan Saxon hands off his client to Criminal Defense Attorney Cory Fleming of Beaufort. No mention of Fleming in any of the Incident Reports or Statements from the Attorneys in the reports. You have all these attorneys for the Club Group over on Hilton Head and then all of a sudden Attorney Fleming’s name pops out. BTW, that was around the same time that Gerwing was supposedly no longer co-operating . It also seems odd that Gerwing was cooperating in the beginning and then switched to no cooperation.

Make no mistake, Fleming is a Criminal Defense Attorney. He has defended many clients on Drug Charges as well as other criminal charges. He’s like the “go to” man. I have to hand it to Fleming, he has been very successful in getting these guys off. Almost Herculean like or Houdini like, it’s like he has some kind of magical powers.

It seems very bizarro weirdo that Attorney Saxon, long-time friend and attorney for Gerwing, which BTW, was in close contact with Gerwing all the way until the end, and then brings Fleming in from Beaufort? BTW, at that point, there weren’t any criminal charges.

The investigators must have obtained a plethora of information during that (4) four hour interview? Of course, that's "Top Secret"

Anonymous said...

Report prepared by Dr. Roger Sorg

March 11, 2008

"MANNER OF DEATH: APPARENT SUICIDE(Pending MUSC pending forensic autopsy)"

There are two operative words here one is "apparent" and the the other is "pending"

1. APPARENT: according to appearances, initial evidence, incomplete results, etc.; ostensible rather than actual...

2. PENDING: remaining undecided; awaiting decision or settlement; unfinished: pending business; pending questions; pending litigation, etc., in the period before the decision or conclusion of...

Keep in mind that this statement "MANNER OF DEATH: APPARENT SUICIDE(Pending MUSC pending forensic autopsy)" was from the Beaufort County Coronor's "ON-SITE" REPORT at the Death Scene March 11th, which by the way would be a preliminary report.

Also, in his report Dr. Sorg lists six cuts on Dennis Gerwing body.

In this report...

On March 12th, CPL Brian Chapman attended the autopsy at MUSC. He observerved many more cuts on Gerwing's on his hand and thighs, etc... etc... that were not mentioned in Dr. Sorg's ON-SITE report.

It's obvious that Dr. Sorg's preliminary conclusion of an apparent suicide was at best incomplete and not conclusory.

BTW, the results from MUSC Autopsy or the contents of the so-called suicide notes have NOT been released by Sheriff Tanner.

Further, the note that was wrtten on the bed sheet was illegible and the other note was written in different sized sentences and paragraphs which is not consistent with an accountant and Chief Financial Officer.

I find it rather unusual that Sheriff Tanner insists that Dennis Gerwing's Death is a suicide when the critical information in making that determination is not back from analysis, i.e the note analysis from SLED and the MUSC Autopsy.

Here is another report that shows the layout of Gerwing's body in the bathtub, very abnormal, Gerwing's head is at the faucet end of the tub.

Also, all of the incident reports may be found at the island packet at:

Anonymous said...

Audit:Dennis Gerwing embezzeled $2.1 million from Calverts, others

Anonymous said...

Body Found Floating in Lagoon on Hilton Head Island, SC Beaufort County, SC

Children Find Body in Hilton Head Lagoon

Children walking along a Hilton Head path made a startling discovery this week...when they saw a body floating in a lagoon.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says the lagoon is near the putt-putt course and The Smokehouse restaurant on the south end of the island, near Coligny Plaza.

...The name of the man has not yet been released...

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