Coroner: Man died from gunshot to head; Fiance still missing

David Hedrick, left, and Dara Lee Watson, right. (Source: Facebook)
David Hedrick, left, and Dara Lee Watson, right. (Source: Facebook)

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - New details have emerged in the case of a missing Mt. Pleasant woman and her fiancé who was found dead in their home last week.

The Charleston County Coroner's Office says 34-year-old David Hedrick died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Incident reports provided by the Mt. Pleasant Police Department on Monday indicate a handgun was found near Hedrick's body on Friday, the same day police contacted him to ask about the whereabouts of his fiancé, 30-year-old Dara Lee Watson.

One of Watson's coworkers filed a missing persons report with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department on Friday after Watson had not been heard from for two days. Watson was last seen on Monday in Boone, NC by her mother.

According to the incident report, Patrick O'Neil and Charles Gilbert arrived at Hedrick's North Creek Drive home on Feb. 11 and found Hedrick's body lying horizontally on the bed in the master bedroom. A police officer described a "pool of blood building around Hedrick's head." The report also states that Hedrick's friend located a 9 mm handgun in the master bedroom's bathroom.

O'Neil and Gilbert say they were making their way up the back steps of their good friend's house when they heard a single gunshot. 

O'Neil and Gilbert are friends of both Hedrick and Watson. They said they were planning to go to lunch with Hedrick last Friday, but when he cancelled on them for the second time in a week, they decided to visit his house on North Creek Drive in Mt. Pleasant.

O'Neil says leading up to Friday, Hedrick wasn't himself. He said the 34 year old was quiet and withdrawn. The two friends say things got more serious Thursday when they found out Watson was missing and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department was looking for her.

They say Hedrick told them "They gotta do what they gotta do." That is what led the two friends to his front porch, knocking on the door. When there was no answer, they looked in the garage and saw his car with all the doors open.

Gilbert says it was at that point they knew something was wrong. They then heard a gunshot and Gilbert broke in the house and ran upstairs. He says when he got there his friend was lying on his back on his bed with a gunshot wound. They called 911, but weren't able to save their friend.

Another incident report states that police contacted Hedrick last Friday when they were looking for Watson. He told them that he hadn't seen Watson since Tuesday, when the couple had an argument that morning. He first told police that Watson's disappearance didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary because she had left and gone to stay with a friend for a couple of days on a few occasions, but later added that she had never been gone for "this period of time" and he was beginning to worry.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies say nothing has been found in the wooded area on Halfway Creek Road where authorities had been searching over the weekend. Authorities say at least 100 people and 12 agencies combed the woods looking for possible leads to locate Watson on Saturday and Sunday. Investigators were back at the house where Hedrick was found to take another look at the scene Monday.

According to Charleston County sheriff's deputies, the search area was expanded Sunday to look a little bit deeper in area for possible clues that could lead them Watson's whereabouts. The search started on Halfway Creek Road near Guerins Bridge Road in the forestry area.

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office says Watson's family came from North Carolina Sunday to view the area where Watson's burnt SUV was found.

"The family wanted to get a feel for the area and the magnitude of what was going on," said Major James Brady, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.

Authorities say they are confident in the areas that have already been searched. Search efforts have been called off, but a smaller group will return if there are new leads in the case.

Agencies participating in the search effort included the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, Berkeley County Rescue, Charleston County CERT Team, Low Country CERT, Low Country Incident Management Team, Charleston Fire Department, Mount Pleasant Fire Department, James Island Fire Department, Daniel Island Fire Department and the American Red Cross.

According to the couple's wedding website, they just got engaged in January.

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