Police chief: Witness saw woman's fiance leave forest with shovel

Tuesday afternoon teams with search dogs search the area near where Watson's SUV was found. (WCIV)

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Police Chief Harry Sewell said a witness positively identified David Hedrick leaving Francis Marion National Forest with a shovel -- the SUV of his fiance, Dara Lee Watson, in flames.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the Mount Pleasant police chief said it is believed Hedrick hitched a ride back to his home in Mount Pleasant where he was eventually found dead on Friday. Sewell confirmed investigators believe Hedrick was involved in Watson's disappearance.

Officials with the Charleston County Coroner's Office confirmed they believe Hedrick's death was suicide.

Chief Sewell said Dara Lee Watson's last known sighting was on Monday evening. The Mount Pleasant Police Department is looking for anyone that can provide information that may lead to her discovery. Specifically, he said, they are looking for info from anyone who may have seen Hedrick's 2008 white in color Mercedes E350 between the national forest and Mount Pleasant earlier this week.

When asked if officials were searching for a body or for a missing person, Chief Sewell responded, "We're looking for Dara."

Dara Watson's disappearance and Hedrick's death follow an argument the couple had in Boone, N.C. Sewell said the argument may have been over wedding plans.

The chief asked the community to respect the privacy of Dara Watson's family and friends.

Previous story

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Officials with the Mount Pleasant Police Department have planned a 4:30 press conference to address the latest developments in the case of Dara Lee Watson.

The 30-year-old Mount Pleasant woman was officially considered missing on Friday.

The body of her fiance was later found in his home, in a pool of blood, with a handgun not far away. Watson's SUV was pulled from the Francis Marion National Forest on Saturday morning. Officials said it had been set on fire.

A search for clues in Watson's disappearance was performed in the area of Awendaw around where her Chevrolet Envoy was found on Saturday and Sunday with no results.

Monday night, investigators again visited the area, acting on a tip there was recently stirred earth close to where the SUV was found. Once the sun came out Tuesday morning, officers said the stirred earth was likely caused by a fallen tree. They said they would discuss continued search efforts in the area.

Tuesday afternoon did bring continued search efforts via forensics teams and canine units.

We will stream the press conference live, click here.