Local News

Wilson Police Say Teen's Vehicle May Be Key In Murder Investigation

Posted June 30, 2004

— Investigators in Wilson continue to look for clues into the murder of a Wilson teenager who would have celebrated her 18th birthday Wednesday.

The body of Brittany Willis, 17, was found late Tuesday afternoon in a field on Westshire Drive near the White Hall subdivision. The area is located behind the Brentwood Shopping Center, one of the last places Willis was seen Monday afternoon.

Officers began a 16-hour search for Willis Monday night. They found her Lexus SUV in front of an empty townhouse at Wilson Woods, a residential complex located about a half mile from the field where her body was found.

"There are some signs of injury," said Sgt. D.H. Garris, of the Wilson Police Department. "There's obvious trauma to the body, but we're not certain as to what the cause of death was."

Garris said Willis was fully clothed. Several pieces of evidence were collected out of her vehicle.

Willis had just graduated from Hunt High School and planned on attending Peace College in the fall.

Investigators said they do not know why anyone would want to hurt her.

"There were no boyfriend problems," Garris said. "No family problems."

"[The boyfriend] actually was one of the ones who alerted the parents that something was wrong and he was with his parents for the most part of the day," Garris said.

Teachers at Hunt High School say Willis, a varsity volleyball player, was the ideal student, smart and personable -- the kind of girl who put everyone at ease.

"Brittany was just a good girl. Period," said John Pait, Willis' English teacher said.

Counselors and school psychologists were available to students at Hunt High School on Wednesday to help students and faculty deal with Willis' death. Counselors also visited with Willis' friends at her parents home.

"They're upset, they're angry, they're just really in disbelief," counselor Nancy Boykin said. "The sooner we get this person off the street, the better and safer all that all of us will feel. she didn't deserve what happened. She was a great kid."

Investigators continue to interview friends, family members and people at the shopping center. They are also stopping residents and others driving into the neighborhood, showing them a photo of Willis and asking them if they had seen her.

Police have no suspects at this time, but they believe the key to their investigation lies in the pearl white 2000 Lexus RX-300 SUV Willis was driving. They want to know if anyone was in the car with her -- especially between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday.

Willis is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 140 pounds with red shoulder-length hair and hazel eyes. She was wearing pink shorts and an unknown colored t-shirt.

"Anything you may have seen may seem to be minor, but to us it may break the case," Garris said.

Anyone with information is urged to call Wilson Police at (252) 399-2323.

and

Michelle Singer

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