The search for a Virginia mother who mysteriously vanished on Tuesday from her front yard took a tragic twist today when a suspect in her disappearance led authorities to her body, officials said.
The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office said TerriLynn St. John’s body was found about a mile from the home in Wake.
“The body was in a patch of woods covered up,” said Maj. Michael Samson of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s office.
Alvin Keyser, 23, of nearby Topping, was taken into custody and was being questioned about St. John’s death, Samson said at a news conference Thursday.
“Mr. Keyser showed us where it [the body] was at,” Samson said.
He said St. John’s remains were located about 20 feet off a road. He said an autopsy was being conducted to determine the cause of death, but the case is now being investigated as a homicide.
The body of St. John — who had the letters “R.J.M.” tattooed on her right wrist, a princess crown on her left wrist, and a cross on her ring finger — was located about 9 a.m., just as about 100 volunteers were preparing to begin the third day of a search for her, said Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey.
Bushey said he informed St. John’s family of the discovery and offered condolences on behalf of his department.
“The closure on this is not good closure, but it is the closure,” Bushey said.
Samson said detectives contacted Keyser Wednesday night after he made incriminating statements to someone, who posted what Keyser said on social media. He said Keyser was not immediately arrested, but contacted authorities Thursday morning.
“We do know Mr. Keyser was an acquaintance,” Samson said of the suspect’s relationship to the victim. “To what degree, we don’t know. That’s still one of the things that’s being investigated by our detectives.”
He said Keyser was not one of the four persons of interests in the case from whom authorities took DNA samples to analyze Wednesday.
St. John, 23, was reported missing Tuesday morning when she didn’t show up for work, according to officials. She was last heard from early that morning when her live-in boyfriend, Mac Kennard, kissed her goodbye about 4:30 a.m. before heading out to work oystering.
“I wish I could trade places with her,” Kennard told ABC station WRIC Wednesday night.
St. John’s father went to her Wake home after learning from his daughter’s coworkers that she never made it to work, Maj. Michael Samson said at a news conference on Wednesday.
“He went over there and he found the door open, saw the children were alone and subsequently called the sheriff’s office,” Samson said, adding that the children were not injured.
St. John, who recently moved to Wake, had planned to drop her children, ages 2 and 3, off at daycare before heading to work, Samson said.
Her car was found parked in the driveway.
Deputies searched the property and discovered St. John’s cell phone in bushes outside the house and a broken necklace in the yard of the home.
St. John’s sister, Maggie, said she could not think of a reason anyone would want to hurt the missing woman.
“She was a very lovable, fun, outgoing person and people were attracted to that,” she told WRIC.
Speaking of TerriLynn St. John’s disappearance Wednesday night, her close friend, Shelby Rose, said, “She did not deserve this. No family deserves to go through this.”