Body found could be that of missing Hope Mills teen
Posted April 3
Updated April 5
Autryville, N.C. — Authorities believe a female's body found in the South River on Wednesday is that of Danielle Locklear, a 15-year-old who went missing in early March, according to a source close the investigation.
The body has been sent to the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office for a positive identification, and Hope Mills police have spoken to Locklear's family. It could be 2-3 days before police receive a positive identification, Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo said.
Cumberland County and Sampson County sheriff’s deputies went to South River at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, after the body was found near the South Gray Street bridge near Autryville, along the Cumberland-Sampson line.
No other information about the discovery of the body was released Thursday.
Locklear left her grandparents’ home on Trencholm Lane in the Fox Meadow/Brook Ridge subdivisions on March 11 to visit a friend. She never arrived, and her grandfather contacted police the following day.
Court documents obtained Thursday by The Fayetteville Observer, a media partner with WRAL News, also shed some light on the investigation. According to a March 26 affadavit, a witness told police that Locklear was at a creek off Legion Road when she was attacked by several people and hurt with a "sharp object causing injury and possibly death." Acciardo said the witness' account was investigated and turned out to be unfounded.
Police said in the affadavit that the teen's social media accounts and cellphone were not used since her disappearance.
On Thursday, distraught family members comforted each other outside the home where Locklear lived with her grandparents. They declined to comment.
At South View High School, where Locklear is a freshman, administrators sent in a crisis team the moment they learned the body could be their missing student.
"We are deeply moved by the whole situation," Cumberland County schools Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said. "We, like everybody, (were) hoping for a positive result, and I guess we will hope for that positive result until we find that it's not."
Few clues had surfaced since Locklear’s disappearance despite the efforts of investigators and hundreds of volunteers who searched for her body on March 22.
One of Locklear's neighbors, Pervin Andrews, is among many in the community hoping for good news since Locklear went missing. Thursday's update was not what he wanted to hear.
"My heart kind of dropped," he said. "I just feel sorry for the parents. It makes you very cautious, very overprotective, because you never want that to happen to your child."
Neighbor Mekka Tucker said she's praying that Locklear is still alive.
"It was devastating to know someone my daughter's age has become missing," she said. "My daughter, she cannot ride the bus anymore. If she does, we take her to the bus stop. When she comes home from school, I'm outside watching her or we pick her up."
Anyone with information about Locklear’s disappearance should call the Hope Mills Police Department at 910-425-4103 or the FBI in Charlotte at 704-672-6100.