NEWTON GROVE, N.C. — Investigators are trying to figure out what happened to a young woman who was found dead along Interstate 40 in Sampson County.
Merritt Marler Ennis, 24, was last seen alive handing out T-shirts at a booth during a concert at Alltel Pavilion in Raleigh Friday night. An hour after the concert ended, authorities found her body in Sampson County.
Authorities suspect Ennis' death involved foul play and not a hit-and-run accident.
"This morning when her picture was on television, it just took my breath away," said Patsy Parker, a friend of the Ennis family.
Doug Long, a friend of Ennis', spent Sunday with her grieving family in Four Oaks -- just 15 miles from where Ennis' body was found.
"There are so many questions left unanswered," Long said. "The family can't begin to comprehend the situation, let alone provide any closure to it."
Investigators said they have a strong lead in the case. They have impounded a vehicle, which may have been the last one Ennis was in before her death. They are also waiting for autopsy results.
"We're anxiously awaiting results from authorities," Long said. "We just ask if anybody knows what happened, please help authorities."
Ennis, who attended South Johnston High School, was the mother of a 3-month-old son, Joseph Peyton. She reportedly called her grandmother around 10 p.m. Friday night to check on her son but never was heard from again.
"Merritt was everything you'd expect as a mother," Long said. "Fine, fine, loving person, who loved nothing more than her child."