Officials find body of Alicia Marie Deans in wooded area of Columbus County

Published: May. 14, 2015 at 3:18 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2015 at 5:07 PM EDT
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Nathan Elisha Tyler (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)
Nathan Elisha Tyler (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)

BRUNSWICK/COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Sheriff John Ingram with the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday an investigation has led to the discovery of a body in Columbus County.

Authorities said the body is that of 26-year-old Alicia Marie Deans, who was last seen Tuesday, April 28 at approximately 1:30 p.m. She was believed to be heading to Whiteville at that time to visit 22-year-old Nathan Elisha Tyler of Clarendon.

"She was well known by a lot of people in our county. She was the mother of two small children. We want the family and friends to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them," Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said. "It is certainly never easy when working these cases we always want the best possible outcome. But at least we do find some small comfort in being able to bring her home to her family."

Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher said detectives located a body in a wooded area near John Coleman Road in the southwest portion of Columbus County around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The body was sent to the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office in Raleigh for an autopsy to make a positive identification of Deans. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Sheriff Hatcher said Deans' Ford Taurus was recovered on Thursday in the Chadbourn/Clarendon area.

Foul play is suspected in Deans' death, but Hatcher would not disclose any leads in the case. Officials do not believe Deans' death was a random act and said residents should not be alarmed.

"From what the investigation has revealed so far, there is no need for the public to be alarmed," Ingram explained. "We feel like we know who it is and we are focusing our efforts on that."

Hatcher did say there are persons of interest associated with the case.  "I will say we have some persons of interest," Hatcher said. "I won't say that we have questioned anyone. Let me say this again, I don't think this was a random act and there is no need for anyone, the citizens of the county, to be alarmed."  He went on to say one of the persons of interest is in custody at this time for an unrelated crime.

Tyler, who authorities say Deans was attempting to visit before she went missing, was arrested on May 6 and charged with failure to appear and probation violation.

He's currently in the Columbus County Jail under a $50,000 bond.

When asked, officials with the Columbus County Sheriff's Office declined to confirm or deny if Tyler was one of the persons of interest.

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