A week of searching for 30-year-old Dara Watson ended Friday when crews scouring the Francis Marion National Forest discovered a body.
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell announced the recovery around 1:30 p.m., but said the Charleston County Coroner's Office still must identify the person found.
Positive ID of the body could take several days, he said.
"We have suspended our search today," Sewell said. He declined to take any questions after the announcement but added, "We continue to pray for the family."
The body was found off Halfway Creek Road, among tall pines and about 150 yards from where Watson's sport utility vehicle was found badly burned on Feb. 7. Sewell said details of the discovery would not be released immediately.
Watson's former fiance, 34-year-old David Hedrick, fatally shot himself in the head Feb. 10 in the North Creek Drive home the couple shared. Watson reportedly had called off the wedding they had planned.
Watson was last reported seen Feb. 6, when she left her mother's residence in Boone, N.C., heading back to Mount Pleasant. Text messages sent from her phone on Feb. 8 stated that everything was fine, but authorities said later they believe Hedrick sent those messages to deceive Watson's family and employer.
Watson's cellphone was found Thursday in one of several small ponds near the North Creek Drive home.
Police said witnesses told them of seeing Hedrick emerge from the forest carrying a shovel, and hitching a ride home days before the search for Watson began.
More than 80 volunteers from 10 law enforcement and volunteer rescue squads joined in the search for Watson. Authorities focused on a two-mile-radius area off Halfway Creek Road near Guerins Bridge Road.
A Red Cross van and volunteers provided food and water to search crews. Portable toilets were set up beside the road.
Search volunteers carried sticks to sift through leaves and debris in the woods. Charleston County sheriff's Maj. Jim Brady said those searching felt for anything that gave resistance along the ground.
The search team also used dogs and divers, even aerial surveillance over the last several days, Brady said. On Friday, they brought out a forensics trailer, ready to collect and store any evidence they found.
Before and after the body was found, motorists on Halfway Creek Road slowed or stopped to ask reporters and photographers what was the latest in the search. When told that a body had been found, some motorists expressed sorrow but said that at least some closure might now come.
Kellie Gandy, a Guerins Bridge Road resident, said that although the forest is sparsely populated, a lot of activity takes place.
"All kinds of people come out here to hide and to do whatever they want to," she said. Gandy said vehicles are burned in the forest often, and she speculated that the burns are linked to insurance frauds and "chop shop" parts-stripping operations.
According to their friends, Watson and Hedrick began dating in April 2008 and became engaged last month.
Hedrick served as president and CEO of Daniel-Island-based bail bond company Palmetto Surety Corp., and Watson worked as an accountant for Verge Solutions in Mount Pleasant.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly described Hedrick's relationship with Palmetto Surety Corp. He was president and CEO of the company.