The search for missing woman Dara Lee Watson took a grim turn Saturday, when police revealed that her burned-out vehicle had been found in the woods days ago, and that the man she lived with was found dead Friday in the home they shared.
As authorities seached the woods near in Awendaw for clues about the missing woman, the Charleston County Coronor's Office confirmed that 34-year-old David Hedrick, who has been described as Watson's fiance, was found dead Friday afternoon at his home in Mount Pleasant's Rivertowne subdivision.
"The only thing I can tell you right now is that we found him deceased in his home," said Deputy Coroner Scott Ramsey. "I think we got the call around 12:45 p.m."
Hedrick, the president and CEO of bail bond company Palmetto Surety, had been in a relationship with Watson since 2009, according to her Facebook account. Watson, a 30-year-old accountant, was declared a missing person Friday, the same day Hedrick's body was found, though police haven't said which event happened first.
She had last been seen Monday in Boone., N.C., by her mother, according to police.
Mount Pleasant police said Watson's cellphone was last used about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday., and according to cell phone tower information, was used in the Venning Road area of Mount Pleasant. Watson's boss received a text message stating she was fine, and she has not been heard from since, Mount Pleasant Capt. Stan Gragg said.
On Wednesday night, two days before Watson was declared missing, rangers with the U.S. Forest Service and the Awendaw Fire Department responded to a report of a badly burned SUV in the Francis Marion National Forest, Mount Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell said.
The vehicle was found about 100 yards off Halfway Creek Road, on a forest service road.
After Watson's family reported her missing on Friday, investigators connected the report of the burned SUV to her disappearance, Sewell said.
This morning, Mount Pleasant police, assisted by deputies from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and rangers from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources the U.S. Forest Service searched a large amount of the woods near where the SUV was found, Sewell said. Tracking dogs were used in the search, but nothing was found, Sewell said.
Watson's SUV was towed to the Sheriff's Office impound lot, Sewell said.
The search was being scaled back about 3:30 p.m., but authorities intended to return to the area on Sunday and resume searching.
Watson is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 127 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone who has any information about her should call the Mount Pleasant Police Department at 843-884-4176.