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Deputies: Missing Hollywood woman and suspect met before she went missing

Julia Ann Mudgett Julia Ann Mudgett
Jerry Lee Manigault (Source: Al Cannon Detention Center) Jerry Lee Manigault (Source: Al Cannon Detention Center)

Charleston County deputies say the suspect in the disappearance of a Hollywood woman met her before she went missing.

The sheriff’s office also says witnesses told investigators they saw 53 year old Jerry Lee Manigault driving Julia Ann Mudgett’s car in Bluffton after she was reported missing.

The 77-year-old woman’s car was found Monday in Jasper County.

Today, the sheriff’s office forensics team finished looking at the car for clues.

The car was covered with fingerprint powder.

The man in charge of the forensics team was not allowed to talk about the case, but did tell us how the process works.

"In most cases, the first step we look for is visible evidence which would be fingerprints, hairs and fibers or bodily fluids,” forensics supervisor Paul McManigal said. "After that, we'll start looking for the evidence that's a little more difficult to see, have to process the vehicle in order to get that evidence."

A sheriff's spokesman told us the forensics team took off the doors and took apart the trunk of Mudgett's car to make sure they didn't miss anything.

The forensics supervisor says that's standard procedure when processing any car involved in a crime.

"Trace evidence is very small and it could be hidden in any part of the vehicle, so it would take us a great deal of time and carefully go through the whole vehicle,” McManigal said.

Now that the car has been processed, they hope to get some answers.

So far, Manigault has refused to talk to detectives.

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