Human remains were found during the search for a missing person, sparking a homicide investigation in North Carolina, officials said.
As of early Monday, May 23, deputies were also looking for Jessica Rita Smith. The sheriff’s office said Smith “should be considered dangerous” and posted a mugshot with “desecration of a corpse” written on it.
The search for Smith was underway after a brother reported his sister missing on May 20. He had last heard from the sister weeks ago, according to deputies.
During an investigation, officials focused on two areas within Macon County, located along the Georgia border and roughly 75 miles southwest of the mountain tourist destination of Asheville.
“Based on credible information, two locations were considered to be possible crime scenes and meticulous searches would be conducted by our team,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post. “The first crime scene was a location where the missing person was last seen alive and the second is where the missing person may currently be located.”
Officials said human remains were discovered, and the person’s identity hadn’t been shared publicly as of May 23.
“We believe these remains will eventually be identified as our original missing person,” Sheriff Robert L. Holland wrote on May 21. “This investigation is now being conducted as a homicide investigation.”
Over the weekend, officials also named Christopher Shields as a “person of interest” in the case.
Shields, a Macon County resident, was charged with kidnapping. He was taken into custody across the state line in Rabun County, Georgia.
Dereck McCrackin was wanted along with Smith but had been arrested as of about 10:30 a.m. May 23.
As the search continues, Smith is “known to stay in the South Tryphosa and Mulberry areas of Macon County” and has spent time in Rabun County, according to investigators. Anyone who sees Smith is asked to call 911.
Officials in their Facebook posts didn’t reveal how the missing person may have been killed, and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office didn’t share additional information with McClatchy News on May 23.