ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office has charged a man for the murder of a 38-year-old Holly Hill woman who was last seen on Christmas.
Investigators arrested Harold Pratt on Monday and charged him with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime in connection to the death of Loretta Bunch.
Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said an exhaustive investigation determined Bunch's body was placed in a local waterway.
"It is with great sadness that I have to report that the search for this lady concluded today at 2 p.m.," the sheriff said. "We developed information that led us to a location about five miles south of Holly Hill and off of Highway 453 where we did, in fact, recover a body."
Ravenell said that while investigators believe Bunch was shot to death, an autopsy will be conducted to determine an official cause of death.
"The sheriff said that even prior to the recovery Monday afternoon, a 45-year-old Holly Hill man was being questioned in Bunch's death," OCSO officials said.
Investigators say Bunch was a manager at a Holly Hill restaurant and was reported missing on Sunday.
Family members said she had last been seen late Christmas Day.
"Bunch's 2003 Chevrolet Trail Blazer was later located at an Old State Road residence where witnesses said the victim had been picked up by a subject driving a truck," authorities say.
According to the sheriff's office, Bunch and Pratt are believed to have been involved in a dispute of some sort prior to Bunch's disappearance.
The sheriff's office is continuing the investigation.