Fayetteville, N.C. — The father of a Fayetteville woman who has been missing for more than a week said human remains found in a wooded area Wednesday afternoon belong to his daughter.
Denika Lashalle Jones, 26, has been missing since May 15, when police found her boyfriend dead inside the home that they shared on Gardenia Avenue.
Tommy Loren Webb, 35, had been shot several times, police said, and Jones' cellphone and personal belongings were left inside the home.
The following day, someone set fire to a couch inside the house, but police said it's unclear if the fire was related to Webb's death and Jones' disappearance.
Jose Reyes was walking through the woods off Gregory Street when he found the remains. He told police the body was badly decomposed.
Police have not positively identified the remains, but said they believe they belong to Jones since their location is a few blocks from Gardenia Avenue.
"(I was) scared. I've never seen people in the bushes dead," Reyes said.
Family friend Linwood Greene said Jones was a "good young girl."
"It hurts me because she went to school with my daughter. I have a young daughter. It could have hit at my home instead of this other young man's home," Greene said.
Jones' father, Frederick Smith, said her death is a huge blow to the family.
Earlier Wednesday, Jones' family pleaded for the public to come forward with any information that could help with the police investigation.
"Don't be scared, because the same scaredness that you're feeling, that's exactly what we're feeling right now," said Jones' aunt, Tyshica Smith. "The nervousness that you're feeling, that hurt, harm or danger may come to you, that hurt, harm or danger may already be happening to our loved one."
Residents of Gardenia Avenue declined to speak with WRAL News, saying they were too afraid.
Investigators said they have interviewed several persons of interest in the case, but no charges have been filed.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Fayetteville police at 910-433-1421 or Crime Stoppers at 910-483-8477.