ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Three people have been charged in the killing and dismembering of a missing Rowan County 19-year-old, and investigators say more arrests are expected.
“Nobody wants to bury their child, much less a 19-yr-old man, still had a lot of life," said Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten.
Officials began the investigation after Michael Elijah Earley was reported missing by his girlfriend. Earley was last seen around 10 p.m. on May 5 at his home on Sides Road, near Haynes Drive and north of Rockwell Park.
Just before 8:30 p.m., investigators said Earley had been killed and dismembered. His remains were found buried in a secluded area, officials say.
Carlos Rosas Jr, 19, Madison Drew Harrington, 18, and Lauren Grimes, 19, were all charged in the case.
Rosas was charged with murder and felony concealment of death and Harrington was charged with accessory after the fact.
Grimes was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact of murder on Thursday, just hours after Harrington was taken into custody.
“This is just terrible for both sides," Sheriff Auten said, "two families ruined forever.”
WBTV was there as Grimes was walked into the jail to be booked. Officials said another arrest could be made in the case.
“I’d say definitely one more, maybe two more,” officials said.
The arrest warrants state, in part, that Rosas “did attempt to conceal evidence of the death of Michael Earley by knowingly and willfully dismembering and destroying human remains.”
Officials said Thursday that Early’s body was transported to a secluded location, partially dismembered and disposed of.
The motivation behind the killing is believed to be marijuana, a “very small drug transaction that just went crazy, haywire - completely out of hand,” officials said in a Thursday press conference.
“A little bit of pot will get you killed,” a family member of Earley said.
Officials say this homicide investigation remains very active, with Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators still collecting evidence and following leads.
Officials said Earley’s family is “going to be without their child forever.”
Harrington and Rosas are expected to appear in court Friday morning.
Anyone with further information about the case should immediately call 704-216-8711 or 911.