Missing woman's fiance spotted leaving woods with shovel

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Police say a missing Mount Pleasant woman's fiance played a part in her disappearance. She was last seen eight days ago, February 6, not long after, her fiance was found dead in their Mount Pleasant home. The coroner says he took his own life.

According to police, the fiance, David Hedrick, got a ride back to his home from the Francis Marion Forest. That same day, the car belonging to missing woman, Dara Watson, was found burned out in the same place.

"It is believed at this time, between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, Hedrick was involved in the circumstances surrounding her disappearance," said Mt. Pleasant Police Chief, Harry Sewell.

At a press conference Tuesday, police pointed to 34-year-old Hedrick as being responsible for Watson's disappearance. Police say a witness saw Hedrick carrying a shovel and running from the forest Tuesday, February 7.

"Witnesses have positively identified Hedrick leaving the burning vehicle and hitching a ride from a passer-by to North Creek Drive, near his residence," Sewell said.

On the ride back to the home the couple shared, police say Hedrick was calm, even talkative.

It was about a day later, Wednesday February 8, when friends of Watson said she sent them text messages saying she was okay. Police now say, Hedrick sent those texts using Watson's phone.

"The text messages were going back and forth real generic saying that she's okay and that type of thing," said Sewell.

This chain of events originally started with what policed call an argument the couple had over their upcoming wedding.

Tuesday, search teams with canines returned to the forest but they still did not find Dara Watson.

Officers are still looking for anyone who may have seen Hedrick's white Mercedes E350, around February 6 or February 7. That will help them piece together what happened.

Police say Watson's family did not have a close relationship with David Hedrick. Hedrick was the president and CEO of Palmetto Surety Corporation. The company released a statement saying they are fully cooperating with police in the investigation.