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'Girl in the Bunker' kidnapper who got 421 years in South Carolina prison dies behind bars

John Monk, The State on

Published in News & Features

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Vinson Filyaw, who was serving a 421-year prison sentence for kidnapping, torturing and raping a 14-year-old Kershaw County girl he kept in an explosive-laden underground bunker, died Monday in state prison, according to official sources with knowledge of his death.

Filyaw, 51, was found unresponsive in his cell at McCormick Correctional Institution, an all-male facility in McCormick County, the sources said.

There were no immediate signs of foul play, and an autopsy will be performed, the sources said.

Faye Puckett, McCormick County coroner, confirmed Monday that an inmate had died but declined to name him. State corrections officials said their practice is to have the county coroner identify inmates who die in prison.

A Lifetime television movie about the case, “The Girl in the Bunker,” aired in 2018.

“He was a bad guy — as bad as you can get without killing anybody,” former 5th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese, who prosecuted Filyaw’s case, said in an interview Monday.


“He got 421 years and deserved every day of it,” Giese said.

Filyaw’s projected release date was in the year 2353, according to prison records.

He was caught in 2006 and pleaded guilty the next year. The judge sentenced him to 421 years in prison by combining consecutive sentences for kidnapping, rape, impersonating a law enforcement officer and a host of other offenses.

“Unforgivable,” intoned Judge G. Thomas Cooper as he sentenced Filyaw to one of the longest sentences given any state defendant in modern times. “You have preyed upon helpless victims with violence and in a savage manner.”


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