MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Investigators located a body Friday afternoon in the Francis Marion National Forest while searching for a missing Mt. Pleasant woman. Police have not said if the body is 30-year-old Dara Watson, but they have suspended their search for her.
The Mt. Pleasant Police Department said the body was discovered in a wooded area off Halfway Creek Road around 10:30 a.m. Hundreds attended vigils for Watson's family and friends Friday night in Boone, North Carolina and in Mt. Pleasant.
"I want to report this, we have discovered a body. It has not been identified yet," Sewell said. "The coroner's office is there, Charleston County crime scene, Mt. Pleasant crime scene are working this now with the coroner's office."
Mt. Pleasant Police Department Capt. Stan Gragg said Friday evening that their investigation will continue as the Charleston County Coroner's office seeks to identify the body. Authorities say it will take one to two days to identify the body.
According to police, the body was found near where Watson's burned SUV was located on Feb. 7. Watson has been missing for more than 10 days.
Watson was last seen in Boone, NC on Feb. 6. Four days later, two friends found her fiance, David Hedrick, dead in the couple's Rivertowne home after an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Authorities then positively identified a burning car found in the forest as Watson's SUV.
"We've been searching this area diligently and all areas of interest," Sewell said. "We've poured so many resources into this. Outside agencies, volunteers and all this."
Mt. Pleasant police have said that Hedrick was involved in Watson's disappearance. About 80 people and at least five different agencies assisted in Friday's search, which led to the discovery.
"It's just an organization of different people and volunteers, different groups of people," said Major Jim Brady with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. "So you've got different people coming in on their days off or manpower or whatever else that we've got."
On Thursday, a team of divers located Watson's cell phone in a retention pond near Watson's Rivertowne home. Investigators think the phone was used Feb. 8 by her fiance, David Hedrick, to mislead the woman's family and employer about her safety. Text messages said Watson was fine.
Mt. Pleasant police have said that Hedrick was involved in Watson's disappearance. According to police, a witness spotted Hedrick with a shovel, leaving the area where Watson's car was found burned.
Deputies recovered a shovel near where the car was found last Saturday that could be the shovel that Hedrick had the day he was driven home from the forest. The shovel is being tested for possible DNA from Dara Watson.