Body found near burned-out SUV belongs to missing accountant as police say she was shot in head and buried by fiance who committed suicide days later
Dara Watson was reported missing on February 10, hours before her burnt-out SUV was discovered in the woods
Fiance David Hedrick, 34, committed suicide hours later
Witnesses had seen Hedrick leave the woods with a shovel
Investigators believe he used Watson's cell phone to mislead her family
Friends say the couple had 'the perfect relationship'
uthorities have identified a body found buried in a shallow grave in a national forest as Dara Lee Watson, the 30-year-old accountant who went missing just days before her fiance committed suicide.Miss Watson was shot in the head, according to Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten, and buried in the Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina near to where her burnt-out SUV was found. Police believe she was killed by her fiance David Hedrick on February 6 or February 7 - days before she was reported missing by her mother.
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Victim: Police have identified a body found in a national park in South Carolina as Dara Watson. They believe she was shot in the head by her fiance who then buried her in a shallow grave
The heartbreaking discovery comes after divers searching ponds near to where Watson and her fiance David Hedrick, 34, lived found found a cell phone belonging to the woman. Watson's family and employer had received text messages on February 8 assuring them she was fine - but investigators now believe Hedrick sent the messages to quell suspicions.
Hedrick committed suicide by shooting himself in the couple's Mount Pleasant, South Carolina home on Friday 10, hours after his girlfriend was reported missing. The pretty brunette was last seen by her mother on February 6.
In love: The couple had a fight on the night of Monday 6. Watson left the home the next day, Hedrick told police
Plan: Officers believe Hedrick texted from Miss Watson's phone to trick her family members and colleagues
Before his death, Hedrick told Mount Pleasant police officers the pair had argued that night and Watson had left their home the following morning. Earlier this week, police revealed that witnesses had seen David Hedrick leaving the woods carrying a shovel. Charleston County Coroner, Rae Wooten, confirmed during a news conference earlier this week that David Hedrick's death was a suicide. He did not leave a suicide note and police believe he took knowledge of Dara's whereabouts with him when he died.
Heartbreak: The pretty brunette was engaged to Hedrick and friends said they had 'the perfect relationship'
Fears: Police have not identified the body but have suspended the search for Miss Watson
Charles Gilbert and Patrick O'Neil, who found Hedrick dead, said he was mild-tempered, didn't like confrontation and deeply in love with his fiance. O'Neil said: 'He's always been tip-top, done the right thing, very successful, nice house. It's very cliché but they're the perfect couple.' 'They were the most successful out of all of us, seemed like the happiest,' he added.
Something must have made Hedrick 'snap.' one friend told WCIV Charleston. 'Why else would he kill himself?'
Search party: More than 100 officers combed the Francis Marion National Forest for two days after Dara's white GMC Envoy was found there
Found: Police are uncertain how long Miss Watson's SUV was in the woods. It has been taken away for investigation
More than 100 officers combed the Francis Marion National Forest for two days after her white GMC Envoy was found there. Search groups turned over leaves in several miles of wooded area, but the search ended after two days with no results, WCIV reported. 'We came out to expand the search that we initially started yesterday,' Brady said.
They were looking for 'any evidence, any clues of anything that might tie into the case for the missing person, and to give it a better opportunity to search the areas a little bit deeper than yesterday'.
Cosmopolitan: The couple had travlled the world together and took hundreds of pictures which they displayed on Facebook
Mysterious: Police now believe texts from Watson's phone on February 8 were sent by Hedrick
Speaking to ABC4, Mount Pleasant police chief Harry Sewell added they were uncertain how long Watson's SUV had been in the woods. 'The vehicle was towed and is being searched for evidence,' he added.
'We're just trying our best to locate this young lady. We've had dogs searching the area looking for bodies. We've been looking for evidence. We don't really know what we're looking for.' Watson's mother - the last person apart from Hedrick to see the missing woman - saw her daughter on February 6 in Boone, North Carolina.
Together: It is believed Watson and Hedrick had been a couple since 2009 and lived together in North Carolina
Scene: Hedrick was found dead in his $410,000 home on Saturday. Neighbours said they had heard gunshots
Hedrick owned local bail bond company Palmetto Surety. In 2010, he bought the $410,000 house on North Creek Drive where his body was found, according to the Post and Courier. Watson, who also lived at the home, met Watson in April 2009 at the Heritage Golf Tournament in Hilton Head, according to her Facebook page. Friends described the pair as 'the perfect couple'. The accountant's social networking page is crammed with photographs of her taking trips - many with Hedrick - to destinations around the world, including Australia, Italy, Costa Rica and Peru.