MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Police say that 30-year-old Dara Watson was shot and killed by her fiance, David Hedrick, in the couple's Mt. Pleasant home and then buried in the Francis Marion National Forest.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department and the Charleston County Coroner's Office confirmed Saturday that the body found Friday has been identified as Watson, who had been missing for almost two weeks.
Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell said during a press conference Saturday that Hedrick killed Watson in the couple's Rivertowne home then took her body to the woods and buried her in a shallow grave. The coroner says Watson died from a single gunshot to the head sometime between Monday and Tuesday night.
"We have confirmed that the body found is Dara," said Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten. "And we have done that through dental examination."
Investigators located Watson's body Friday afternoon in the Francis Marion National Forest while conducting a search for her. Watson's body was found close to where her burned SUV was located on Feb. 7. Watson had been missing for more than 10 days.
"Watson's body was found about 60 yards from her burned car," said Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell.
Watson was last seen in Boone, NC on Feb. 6. Four days later, two friends found her fiance, 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.
"He transported her body in her SUV to the woods on Halfway Creek Road and buried her in a shallow grave," Dewell said.
Police said Saturday that Hedrick sent text messages and calls from Watson's phone after he killed her, telling family members and her employer that she was fine.
"Hedrick sent texts from her phone trying to make people believe she was still alive," Sewell said.
On Thursday, a team of divers located Watson's cell phone in a retention pond near the couple's Rivertowne home.
A witness spotted Hedrick with a shovel, leaving the area where Watson's car was found burned. Deputies recovered a shovel near the car during a search last weekend.
Saturday's announcement provides some closure to Watson's family and the hundreds of people who spent the last week searching for her.
"They didn't stop looking for her," Sewell said. "They treated this as if they were looking for their own kids."
Police are now trying to determine if the gun Hedrick used to kill himself is the same gun he used to kill Watson. Police also now know more about Hedrick's plans for after he killed Watson and before he committed suicide. Investigators say they found signs that he was planning to leave town after the murder. They found a resignation letter in his home. Hedrick's funeral was held Thursday.