911 call alludes to couple's breakup before man killed himself

Dara Watson, right, has been missing since Feb. 6 (Source: Facebook)
Dara Watson, right, has been missing since Feb. 6 (Source: Facebook)

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - On a 911 call released Wednesday, a friend of David Hedrick tells emergency dispatchers that Hedrick had just fatally shot himself after a recent breakup with his girlfriend, 30-year-old Dara Watson, who police are currently searching for.

According to a police incident report, Patrick O'Neil and Charles Gilbert arrived at Hedrick's North Creek Drive home last Friday and found Hedrick's body lying horizontally on the bed in the master bedroom.

Gilbert told emergency dispatchers that he and O'Neil heard gunshots and broke into Hedrick's home and found him suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot.

"Wow this is awful," Gilbert told the dispatcher. "He and his girlfriend just broke up. They were about to get married ... "David! He's gone. He's gone."

In the 911 audio, a dispatcher tells Gilbert to remove the gun, which was discovered on Hedrick's chest.

"When I was on the phone with you guys we just busted in," Gilbert said on the 911 call. "I heard a gunshot then broke out the back window. It was just too late."

The couple got engaged in January and lived together in the North Creek Drive home.

Investigators will keep following up on tips, but don't plan any full-scale searches for Watson over the next few days. The Charleston County Sheriff's Office says that will change if they get solid evidence on where to find Watson.

On Wednesday, officers searched in Mt. Pleasant's Rivertowne subdivision where Watson and Hedrick lived. Authorities also searched a nearby golf course and in parts of the Francis Marion National Forest near Halfway Creek Road. Search crews used rakes, shovels and bull dozing equipment Wednesday, but so far have not found any significant leads in the case.

The sheriff's office announced earlier Wednesday that deputies recovered a shovel on Halfway Creek Road on Saturday that could be the shovel that David Hedrick had the day he was driven home from the Francis Marion National Forest. The shovel is being tested for possible DNA from Dara Watson.

Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell said Tuesday that Hedrick, Watson's fiance, was involved in her disappearance. According to police, a witness spotted Hedrick with a shovel, leaving the area where 30-year-old Dara Watson's car was found burned. The shovel was found down the road from the burned car on Halfway Creek Road.

Law enforcement agencies have been searching for Watson, who was last seen in Boone, North Carolina on Feb. 6. On Friday, two friends found Hedrick, 34, dead in the couple's North Creek Drive home after an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

On Friday, two events will be held the Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park to support Watson's family and friends. At 4 p.m., event organizers will distribute flyers and posters. At 7  p.m., a candlelight vigil will be held for Watson.

During a press conference Tuesday, Sewell said that between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, Hedrick was involved in the circumstances of Watson's disappearance. Police say the couple may have had an argument Monday night about the upcoming wedding.

"Dara's burnt vehicle was recovered in the Francis Marion National Forest off of Halfway Creek Road," Sewell said. "Witnesses have positively identified Hedrick leaving the burning vehicle and hitching a ride from a passerby to North Creek Drive near his residence."

Authorities are looking for anyone who may have seen Hedrick's white 2008 Mercedes E-350 or Watson's silver 2006 GMC Envoy between Monday and Tuesday night.

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