Missing woman's boyfriend arrested, unidentified body found - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Missing woman's boyfriend arrested, unidentified body found

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

HINESVILLE, GA (WTOC) - Police didn't need long Friday morning to find a body in the woods off Juanita Road.

"We received information Thursday that we needed to search this area," explained Major Thomas Cribbs of the Hinesville Police Department. "We searched by ground late that afternoon, they used a Georgia State Patrol helicopter this morning to spot human remains from the air."

But they couldn't say if the remains they found belong to Savannah Smith.

"I do not know who this is. It will require an autopsy at the crime lab," Cribbs added.

Hinesville police had been searching for Smith since last Friday, when friends reported her missing. They'd questioned her boyfriend, Maurice Newsome, over the weekend. But he disappeared Monday and that made him a person of interest in the case. Atlanta police found Newsome there early Friday morning and arrested him in her disappearance.

Police said Newsome told them from the start an argument with Smith the night she disappeared was more than an argument, it was an assault.

"We were told it was a domestic situation where she was beaten," Cribbs noted.

Newsome was arrested in Atlanta and is charged with aggravated assault.

At this sports bar in Hinesville, Savannah's friends and co-workers fear the worst - that the body discovered was hers.

"I've got 40 employees grieving now. They were all close to her," said Jodee Carlen, Savannah's boss at The Colleseum Sports Bar. "It softens it a little to know he's in custody and we prayed for her to come back. In my heart, I want her to still be alive."

Savannah's best friend, Lindsey Odom, was one of many at a candlelight vigil last night. She says she saw signs of problems between Savannah and Newsome.

"She came to work with bruises and all. Bruises the size of your side," Odom said. "She wouldn't admit it to me because she knows I would have done something about it and it wouldn't have gone well."

Both women said Newsome's capture gives them some relief.

"I won't have no relief personally until I know what they do to him," Odom noted.

Police aren't sure when they'll bring Newsome back to Hinesville on the assault charges. An autopsy could determine the identity of the remains as soon as Monday.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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