Local News

Missing state worker's body found in S.C.

Posted May 20, 2008

— A woman's body found in Fort Mill, S.C., is that of a missing state insurance examiner who traveled to Charlotte last week to audit an insurance company, police said Tuesday evening.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., police investigators converged on a private wooded area about 200 yards off of Vista Road, 23 miles south of Charlotte, where they found the body of Sallie Rohrbach, 44.

It had been there for about three days, they said.

Rohrbach’s employer, the state Department of Insurance, said in a statement that the news brought conflicting emotions to those at the agency.

"We are devastated that all hope is lost, but we also find a sense of closure in knowing that we can lay to rest our dear friend and colleague with the dignity and respect she deserves," the statement said. "Not knowing where to find her was torturous, so at least in that regard there is some relief."

"We pray for peace for Sallie's family and want them to know that we grieve with them," it continued.

Meanwhile Tuesday, a district judge in Mecklenburg County rejected a request for a public defender from the insurance agency owner charged with first-degree murder in the case.

Michael Arthur Howell, 40, of Indian Trail, asked for a court-appointed attorney, but the judge denied the request, citing Howell's $6,000 monthly income and liability insurance, saying it was enough income for him to pay for his defense.

It was unclear if anyone was in court representing Rohrbach's family; a handful of people were there for Howell, including his sister-in-law, who did not identify herself by name.

"Just pray for both families," she said as she left court.

Rohrbach traveled to Charlotte early last week to audit Howell's Dilworth Insurance Agency. When family and co-workers did not hear from her by Friday, they called police.

Police found her car Sunday morning in the parking lot of a Bojangles' restaurant less than a mile from the insurance agency.

Authorities said Rohrbach's apparent slaying was connected to her duties as an auditor and that evidence was found in both her car and Howell's vehicle was enough to charge him.

Howell's next court date is June 2; a probable cause hearing is scheduled for June 9.


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  • anne53ozzy May 21, 2008

    Please....people who have panic attacks do not kill others as a result.
    My heart is with this apparently loving man who has lost his partner in life.
    I wonder now if it should be routine for just one auditor to go into a business alone.
    Money can and does make some people desperate; coupled with the threat of criminal prosecution if this man was caught having done something criminal.
    It does seem inappropriate to send just one person to conduct an audit at any time. Of course, this is hindsight...

    God bless this grieving husband.

  • NCMOMof3 May 21, 2008

    Criminals never cease to amaze me with their stupidity. See blue lights in the rearview mirror, I must try to outrun the police. Surely they can't catch me. Insurance fraud? Murder the auditor and hide the body. To be sure they won't even suspect me. My prayers for this lady and her family and I hope, in this case, justice will be swift and severe.

  • Tarheel born May 21, 2008

    There is no closure. Only a final chance to say goodbye and an appropriate burial site to visit.

  • Justin T. May 21, 2008

    My comment is similar to GWALLY... you can't just kill someone who is causing you problems. This is the real world, not the Sopranos.

    The last I heard the conviction rate for murder was over 90%.

    Hope he enjoys being big bubba's new girlfriend.

  • unchick May 21, 2008

    He is so greedy for money that he would take a life instead of paying a fine. On top of that he had the nerve to ask for a court appointed attorney even though he has enough money to afford one of his own. I am so glad the judge decided to make him spend his OWN money.

  • Student Nurse May 21, 2008

    The Rock Hill Herald has a more interesting version of this story, they interviewed a woman living near the Fort Mill location. Apparently, bodies have been found there before.

  • GWALLY May 21, 2008

    I just don't understand how anyone in this "enlightened" age thinks they can just kill someone and no one would "notice"??

  • Rocknhorse May 21, 2008

    This is truly a sad, senseless and tragic thing for her family. My heart goes out to them. It does not make any sense to me and is incredibly unfair.

    I also had questions about how they could be charging the man with murder before they had located her. That was something very curious to me. While the circumstances are horrible, I am glad that they did find her so her family can seek some sort of closure, whatever that may be. As for the person responsible for this heinous crime, I hope he suffers terribly for his actions and that still wouldn't be justice served.

  • angora2 May 21, 2008

    Her poor husband. He was interviewed and asked, "What kind of business problem would justify killing my wife?"

    This guy must worship money ... wonder what he's worshipping now? Oh right ... time for a religious conversion and a bible.

  • garnertoy May 21, 2008