Local News

Body in Shallow Grave Believed to Be Missing Woman

Posted November 28, 2007

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— A 24-year-old man was charged Wednesday with murder after a body was found in a shallow grave behind a home in Four Oaks, authorities said.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said deputies got a tip Tuesday about a body being buried behind a mobile home on Selah Church Road. The anonymous tipster told deputies it had been there awhile, he said.

Investigators searched the area with canines and found a grave approximately 1 foot deep. Deputies have tentatively identified the remains as those of 42-year-old Patricia Herring, who was reported missing by her sister, Kathy Holt Aflfrao, on Aug. 12.

The mobile home was Herring's last known address, investigators said. David Best, who lives in the trailer, was charged with murder and was being held without bond in the Wayne County Detention Center.

Aflfrao said Best was her sister's boyfriend. In a missing person report, Best said he last saw Herring on June 1 at the Wal-Mart in Mount Olive.

The State Bureau of Investigation was helping local authorities preserve the evidence in the case, Winders said, including removing the remains from the site and collect any other evidence that might be in the shallow grave.

"(It) takes a long time because you have to sift through the soil to make sure everything is recovered," he said.

The remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill for positive identification and to determine the cause of death.

Neighbor Charles Harrell said Best helped him with carpentry work at his house two weeks ago, and he never had a clue about the crime that had occurred – and remained hidden – across the street.

"I did not notice a thing that was unusual," Harrell said. "I was just surprised that anything like that happened in the neighborhood, a tragedy like that.

"You feel like you know (your neighbors), but you don't ever know what to expect nowadays," he said.