Friend recalls David Hedrick's final days

By Nikki

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- A long time friend of the fianc of a missing Mount Pleasant woman recalls the final moments of his life before committing suicide.

Dara Lee Watson, 30, has been missing for more than a week. Days after she vanished, her fianc, David Hedrick, committed suicide according to officials.

"His chest was rising, but you could tell by his condition that he was dead," said Patrick O'Neill, Hedrick's friend of nearly twelve years.

He says his friend worked for Palmetto Surety. O'Neill says he was at Hedrick's home moments before Hedrick shot himself in the head.

"The only reason he would kill himself is because something happened to Dara," O'Neill said.

According to O'Neill, Hedrick and Watson began dating in April 2009 after a friend introduced them. Watson eventually left her accounting job in Boone, North Carolina and moved to Charleston to be with Hedrick.

"When she came down here, she finally got a job with Verge Solutions, LLC," said O'Neill. "They were like the best, happiest couple out of all of us. Life was good for them. There weren't any fights."

O'Neill says in early January of this year, Hedrick finally proposed to Watson.

"We just didn't expect it because he said he didn't want to get engaged again. He'd been engaged before and it didn't work out," said O'Neill.

On Super Bowl weekend, he says the couple traveled to Dara's hometown of Boone, North Carolina about five hours away from Charleston.

"They just went up to Boone for the Super Bowl. There was a baby shower on the Super Bowl," he said.

However, after no one heard from either of them for a few days after the game. That's when O'Neill says he called his friend but it went straight to voicemail so he left a message.

"I said, 'Where are you? I hear you're missing. I'm making sure you didn't fall off a cliff,'" stated O'Neill.

Hedrick immediately called him back.

"He was like 'We had a big fight. She said she didn't want to get married. She said I changed and I know I haven't,' and I'm like 'What the hell, dude?'" said O'Neill.

O'Neill says during the course of the conversation he then invited Hedrick over for dinner on Thursday, February 9th but Hedrick eventually backed out.

"He's like 'It's too late,'" stated O'Neill. "And I said 'What do you mean it's too late? Dude, where are you? We're waiting for you.'"

The two eventually agreed to reschedule and meet for lunch on Friday, February 10th.

That day, O'Neill says he learned Dara's boss had filed a missing person's report. Once again, O'Neill called Hedrick looking for answers.

"I'm like 'Dude, do you realize this is serious? They're filing a missing person's report. You should be filing this report,'" he stated. "What the hell is going on? He said 'I guess they got to do what they got to do.'"

O'Neill says the tone of his friend's voice made him fear something bad had happened to Dara.

After getting little answers from Hedrick on the phone, O'Neill says he called their friend Charles Gilbert and the two went over to Hedrick's home.

"We just knew something was wrong and we wanted answers," said O'Neill. "We were walking up the stairs. Right when we got there we heard the gun shot."

O'Neill and Charles walked up the outside steps, broke a window to get into the house, ran upstairs, and found David had shot himself in the head. Gilbert called 9-1-1 while O'Neill searched the house.

"I started looking through all the closets, doors, underneath all the beds, bathrooms, looking for Dara," said O'Neill.

With still no sign of her, O'Neill says he feared the worst.

Prior to going into Hedrick's home the day he committed suicide, O'Neill says he and Gilbert came upon Hedrick's car in the garage.

"Both passenger doors were open. We could see a bunch of clothes in his car, all of his financial stuff, checkbooks," said O'Neill.

O'Neill says his friend may have been planning to skip town before deciding to end his own life.

If you have any information on Dara Watson's whereabouts, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111 or Mount Pleasant Police.