Crews find body; Search suspended - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Crews find body; Search suspended

Posted: Updated: Feb 17, 2012 09:04 PM
Dara Lee Watson (Provided) Dara Lee Watson (Provided)
Investigators continued to work the scene long after it was announced a body was found. (Brian Troutman/WCIV) Investigators continued to work the scene long after it was announced a body was found. (Brian Troutman/WCIV)

By Brian Troutman
btroutman@abcnews4.com

HUGER, S.C. (WCIV) -- Mount Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell said a grave was found. Investigators are now working to determine if that body is Dara Watson.

For now, authorities say, the search of Francis Marion National Forest, has been suspended.

The discovery of the body wasn't far from where Watson's burnt car was found last week -- possibly only several hundred yards away.

"This is kinda scary," said Mark Gandy, who lives about a mile from the area where the body was found.

"When somebody shows up dead in your backyard, it sort of, you know, makes you really aware of your surroundings," he said.

Gandy says his wife saw Dara Watson's SUV on the side of the road in the area earlier in the week. He said it was before the vehicle was burned.

"It just all unfolded and we are so close to it that we felt like we had to keep up with it. ...I'm glad a body was found. That way hopefully the family can get some closure to the story," Gandy said.

Gandy said the series of events so close to his home has been somewhat life-changing. He said he found himself searching his 40 acres of property in the national forest for the missing woman.

"It makes you look twice now when you see a parked car on the side of the road."

The Gandys said they came to the scene of the search on Friday with good intentions. They said they came to take lunch orders for those who would be working the search on Saturday but were glad something had been found and their attempted good deed would not be needed.

"It makes you be aware, believe in God and remind you your days are numbered and you don't know what number you are on yet," Gandy said. "This is a sad story, and I'm glad it's over with."

Friday's search involved nearly 80 volunteers from 10 agencies. Major James Brady with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office said areas were searched on foot by law enforcement officials, emergency response workers and volunteers affiliated with CERT. Brady said the search area of primary focus was about a mile to a mile and a half in area.

"We pulled so many resources into this," Sewell said. "We have discovered a body. It has not been identified yet. ...It takes time to do that."

Before ending a brief press conference used to inform the media about the latest development, Sewell was sure to thank the efforts of volunteers, officers with multiple agencies involved in the search and the media.

"We are applauding their efforts," he said. "It's been a great cooperative effort, and we continue to pray for the family and thank the media for all the positive coverage."

Also on Friday divers searched the Wando River near the Rivertowne community where Dara Watson's cell phone was found in a pond on Thursday. The pond was near the home of Watson's fiance, David Lee Hedrick.

Watson was officially reported missing last Friday. Hedrick was found dead at his home on the same day of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators say they believe Hedrick was involved in her disappearance.

* ABC News 4 Reporter Natalie Caula contributed to this report.

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