One day after hearing the tragic news, friends of Dena Carter are still trying to cope with the fact that their friend is dead. It was the news they'd dreaded for days, even weeks. There weren't any flowers or candles outside Dena Carter's apartment door this morning. A fresh coat of paint covers the doorway once marred by police tape. Flyers no longer hang in every window.
Dena Carter, six months pregnant and a student at Georgia Southern, disappeared September 11 on the way to the campus library. She was due to deliver her baby on or near Christmas Day. Many in her church considered the mother-to-be, and her unborn child, a part of the family. "She was so young and had her whole life ahead of her," said Barbara Mosley of the Agape Worship Center. "She was...if anyone knew her, they would be sad too."
The search for Carter ended two days before she was supposed to deliver her baby. Last Tuesday, hunters found human remains on Fort Benning. Yesterday, investigators confirmed those remains were Carter and the unborn baby she'd already named Destiny Nicole.
"This is heavy news, especially for people who've sat beside her in service, letting her hold their children," said her pastor, Anthony Chavers.
Far from her real family in California, folks at Agape Worship Center had become closer than friends. They've spent three months in turmoil and doubt. "It's almost a sense of relief," said the church's Evelyn Chavers. "You didn't want to believe it, but you've got to believe the truth."
Most of the people we talked with at Agape said as tragic as it is to know, knowing is better than not knowing.
As for the investigation into Carter's death, members of the GBI and Statesboro police traveled first thing this morning to Columbus to meet with military investigators. The meeting was supposed to be kind of a passing of the torch, with contact names and numbers. Now we wait to see what happens next.