HOLLYWOOD - Glass from a broken window still littered the front porch of Julia Ann Mudgett's home Tuesday after investigators revealed that the 77-year-old woman's disappearance is suspicious.
How to help
Anyone who sees Julia Ann Mudgett should call 911. People with information in her disappearance can call sheriff's investigators at 843-554-2475. To be eligible for a reward, they can submit anonymous tips through Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111.
The Charleston County Sheriff's Office announced the determination a day after deputies found Mudgett's car east of Ridgeland and a week after she was reported missing.
Detectives' early suspicions of foul play were confirmed by "adding up all the evidence," including the discovery Monday of Mudgett's vehicle, sheriff's Maj. Eric Watson said. Investigators were expected Tuesday to scan the car for evidence.
Police also are looking into connections between Mudgett's disappearance and the homicide of a 70-year-old woman in Bluffton, according to the Island Packet.
Polly Ann Mitchell was found slain in her Buck Island Road home on Monday. Ridgefield is near Bluffton and it is unclear if investigators have more evidence linking the two cases. The cause of Mitchell's death was not released.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in West Ashley will gather Wednesday night to pray for Mudgett. The service will be at 8 p.m. at the church at 1519 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
Mudgett had been reported missing May 6 from her home at 6739 Toogoodoo Road in Hollywood after she didn't show up for an evening Bible study. A member of the study group told sheriff's deputies that she last heard from Mudgett in a May 4 voice message that sounded normal, the woman told the deputies.
But at the house, deputies said they found an open door, a broken window and blood. Her 2002 Hyundai Elantra also was gone.
Watson said investigators knew that something had happened there.
The sedan turned up Monday near a boat landing on Tuten Landing Road, which is between the Broad River and Interstate 95 in Jasper County, Watson said.
The car, which was still in good shape, had been abandoned in the open, he said.
Watson could not immediately say whether any evidence was uncovered in the car. Deputies towed it back to Charleston County, so they could examine it for clues, he said. The forensic unit was still processing the car Tuesday, he said.
No suspect has been arrested, Watson said, but whether investigators had identified one remained unclear.
Charleston County deputies on Tuesday searched areas of Beaufort and Jasper counties, where they have been working with local authorities, without locating Meggett, Watson said.
The case is still considered a search for a missing person, Watson said, not a homicide investigation.
Christina Elmore contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.