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Grovetown Man Jailed for Killing Girlfriend & Her Sick Son Amid Break-Up


A Grovetown man accused of killing his live-in girlfriend and her 6-year-old son was released from the hospital Tuesday and booked for double murder, authorities said.

Donald Beck, 32, is facing two counts of murder and a single count of arson in Monday’s slayings of his girlfriend Karen Denise Boswell and her 6-year-old son, Ethan. The victims were found dead inside the burning home on 309 Newmantown Road in Grovetown with investigators realizing later that the victims had sustained knife wounds.

Authorities say a real estate agent had gone to the home Monday regarding sale of the rental property and realized the house was on fire. When firefighters answered a 911 call, they found Beck trying to get out of the home, and he fought with them before being handcuffed and taken to the hospital on a stretcher. He apparently suffered burns from the fire that he set, possibly to cover up the murders, authorities said.

Boswell was living at the home with five of her children, with most of them at school, according to her mother. But Ethan was sick and had been at a children’s hospital with an upcoming surgery being scheduled.

The victim started a GoFundMe page, describing Ethan’s rare condition called OEIS syndrome that would require a long medical journey. She said Ethan had undergone numerous surgeries since birth, including ones to address organs outside his body, a split bladder, and other complications associated with the condition.  She said he had upcoming surgeries and extended hospital stays.

Boswell had taken an unpaid leave from Starbucks to care for Ethan, and she said the financial strain was significant. She was seeking GoFundMe donations for medical supplies, gifts to keep Ethan entertained during his hospital stays and general support. But she only raised $223 of a $15,000 goal.

Boswell had told co-workers at the Starbucks on Mike Padgett Highway that Beck was abusing her and was trying to get out of the relationship. She had previously told friends that Beck was “the love of her life,” before it turned violent, according to former co-worker and friend Roland Burbine.

“I was shocked. I would have never thought that would happen to her and her son. I thought her son was still in the hospital,” Burbine said. “She had several (previous) boyfriends who she wasn’t that comfortable with. When she worked with me at Solo Cup, she got married there to another guy. … I think (Beck) was mainly kind of in love with her, and when she broke it up, I think he went berserk. That’s why he did that. She told me she was going to break up with him because he abused her.”

When he was arrested for shoplifting in Aiken County last fall, Beck gave authorities the Newmantown Road home as is his address. On Tuesday, he was at the Columbia County Detention Center.

Autopsies are planned on the two victims, and police were working with social services to place the other children. Relatives of Boswell said she has seven children in total from different fathers, and she was a grandmother since her adult son had a child. One of the seven children previously passed away.

Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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