11/28/07 — Body found in yard

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Body found in yard

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 28, 2007 1:45 PM

Police unearthed the body of a woman reportedly last seen at the Mount Olive Wal-Mart in May and charged her live-in boyfriend in the death, authorities said.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Department helped Mount Olive police chase down a tip that led to the discovery of the body of Patricia Herring behind a house on Selah Church Road in the Grantham community, Capt. Tom Effler said.

David William Best, 24, Selah Church Road, Four Oaks, is charged with one count of murder in the death, Effler said, and is being held without bond in the Wayne County Jail.

Effler said police started their search at 6:30 p.m. Tues-day and didn't finish until 4:30 a.m. today.

"We've worked on it all night long, the scene has been secured all night long," Effler said. "We're going back out there today."

Mount Olive police Chief Ralph Schroeder said in October that police were looking into the death, but had no hard evidence that foul play had occurred.

On Wednesday, Effler said authorities were still unsure about motive.

"It could have been domestic, it could have been something else, but right now we're not really sure," Effler said.

Two canine officers certified in cadaver detection, Maggie and Cora, led by Sgt. Joe Smith and Cpl. Jason Hill, were used in the search, sheriff's office investigators said.

Authorities said Ms. Herring's body is being sent today to the Chief Medical Examiner John Butts' office in Chapel Hill for positive identification.

Medical examiners will also try to determine a cause of death, investigators said.

Ms. Herring, 42, was first reported missing to Mount Olive police by her sister, Kathy Holt Alfaro, on Aug. 12, after she heard troublesome rumors of her sister's disappearance, she said.

At the time, Ms. Alfaro said she suspected Best was somehow involved in the death, and questioned Best's account of her disappearance.

Ms. Alfaro said Best claimed to have left Ms. Herring walking outside the Mount Olive Wal-Mart on N.C. 55, which is why Ms. Alfaro filed the report with police there, she said.

Sheriff Carey Winders praised the law enforcement agencies involved.

"This has been a tragic incident, but I would like to state my appreciation to my detectives and canine officers and the officers of the Mount Olive Police Department for their assistance," Winders said in a press release issued today. "This is another example of different law enforcement jurisdictions working together to reach a productive end."