LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. -- Joseph Hilton, 62, known as Danny, told a 911 operator his wife, Deborah Faile Hilton, 59, wouldn't stop talking, so he shot and killed her.
"She just kept on and on and on, and I just couldn't talk to her," Hilton said during a 911 call obtained by Channel 9. When the 911 operator asks him why he shot her, Hilton replies, "We were in a domestic argument, and we just could not come to a conclusion."
"Is she still alive?" the operator asks him. "I think she's dead," he answers.
Hilton called 911 minutes after the shooting on Old Jefferson Highway, at the far eastern edge of Lancaster County. The arrest warrant says Hilton shot his wife once in the chest with a .45-caliber handgun.
After sheriff's deputies arrived and talked Hilton out of the single-wide mobile home, they discovered her body about three feet from the front door.
Hilton told them he'd left the gun inside the house.
According to the incident report, Hilton also made another call just after dialing 911. He called his stepson and said, "I just shot your mom. You need to get over here." When his stepson arrived, deputies and EMS crews were already there.
Louise Vinson is Deborah Hilton's cousin. She works at a convenience store just down the street from the house.
She told Channel 9 she and Deborah grew up together. "We were best friends. If I wasn't over at her house, she was over at mine," Vinson said. "This is sad because it's so close, and knowing her like I do."
Vinson said she did not know Danny Hilton, and she knew of no problems between the couple.
A check of court records found no past criminal charges, and no history of domestic violence between the couple. However, sheriff's investigators believe Deborah Hilton had threatened to leave her husband in the past. It's not clear, though, if that's what they were arguing about late Monday night.
Danny Hilton was still in jail late Tuesday. His bond was denied automatically, because a magistrate judge cannot set a bond for a murder charge.