By Brian Troutman
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) – Kimberly Kite has no connection to Dara Lee Watson. Yet, she feels pushed to help.
The 38-year-old former Eutawville police officer hurt her knee after a trip to the law enforcement academy in Columbia. It was an injury that made her rethink her career.
Since, she has devoted time to help in the search for missing persons. In addition to being a student and a mother of two children, she has been working with a couple local private investigators and she hopes to eventually develop an agency in South Carolina specifically devoted to missing person cases.
Kite was involved with a Facebook page for the highly-publicized case of Amir Jennings of Columbia. Now, she's involved in attempts to gather information on Watson, who was reported missing by the Mount Pleasant Police Department on Friday.
"Being a police officer writing tickets and taking people to jail wasn't what I wanted to do," Kite said. "I would rather help somebody, save somebody and ease a family in a time of need."
Kite said she was doing research on the Jennings case when she got a Google alert about Dara Watson. She said work on the Jennings page led to tips and searches in his case, so doing the same for Watson seemed like a no-brainer.
"With the 18-month-old, we got several tips and were able to put search parties together," she said.
As of 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the "find DARA LEE Watson" page had 464 likes (followers).
"You hope that in the end there is going to be some fairytale turnout," Kite said. "That's kind of what you hope and look for."
Since setting up the page, Kite has been involved in helping to organize distribution of fliers and a vigil planned for Friday. She said there has been great response from Watson's friends and family members. She said their interest in her efforts is motivation to do as much as she can.
"When I set up the Facebook page for her, I asked if people would like to do a flier event or a vigil," she said. "Then, I was asked to do posters before the vigil. …We are in the process now of asking churches to donate candles for the vigil, and we are looking to find out if she was a member of a local church to identify a pastor to lead the vigil."
The candlelight vigil for Dara Lee Watson will be held at Mount Pleasant's Memorial Waterfront Park on Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event will be preceded by a poster and flier distribution from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the park.
Dara Lee Watson was officially listed as missing on Friday afternoon. At a press conference Tuesday, officials said they believe her fiance, David Hedrick was involved in her disappearance.
Hedrick was found dead at his home on Friday afternoon. The Charleston County Coroner's Office confirms he died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.