WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Thursday and Friday, prosecutors argued that there is enough probable cause to charge James Bradley with the first degree murder of Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk. Judge Sandra Ray, sided with the prosecution ruling that there is "more than enough probably cause" to move forward with the murder case.
Throughout the course of the two day hearing, District Attorney Ben David pointed to Bradley several times as a suspect in the homicide of Elisha Tucker.
Tucker disappeared in August of 2013.
Her body was found on a farm where Bradley worked off of Hoover Road in Pender County. Originally, authorities believed her remains were Vannewkirk's, but later learned they were Tucker's.
Testimony in court explained that Bradley was one of only a few people who had access to the land. In order to get to the area, someone would have to get past a gate with a combination lot. Bradley's former employer, Steve Mott, testified the combination number to that gate was printed in the visor of Bradley's work truck which he drove often.
New details were also revealed in court about the way her body was found.
Detective Lamberty, the lead investigator in the Vannewkirk case, testified that when they got to the farm, they saw dirt that had been moved recently. He said when they started digging in the spot, the ground had already been turned up and there were no roots. About six or eight inches into the ground, he said they found a black trash bag. Lamberty also testified that water was oozing out of the ground and it had a very bad odor.
At that point, CSI was called to the scene. Lamberty said as they excavated the ground, a "foul odor" emerged and there were "lots of flies".
He said they pulled on the trash bag, and kept digging about three feet down where they found a second bag, with the remains of a Caucasian female that was later identified as Tucker.
Investigators testified that she was found inside three trash bags, in the fetal position wrapped in duct tape, so that it could be squeezed into the bag.
Preliminary medical examinations showed that Tucker died from blunt force trauma.
Friday, District Attorney Ben David said they plan to expedite the forensic analysis on her remains so that testing can be complete in as early as 60 days.
Tucker was known to hang out in the area of Market and Dawson Streets. At the time she disappeared, Bradley was living in the 700 block of Dawson street.