Local News

Body Found Confirmed to Be That of Missing Student

Posted December 1, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The search for a missing college student has given way to a murder investigation. Robeson County investigators have confirmed that a skeleton discovered over the weekend is the remains of a University of North Carolina-Pembroke student who was reported missing six months ago.

It's exactly the news people in the community of Pembroke were dreading when Cynthia Wheeler was first reported missing. Monday, investigators learned the body they found this weekend was in fact hers.

The case has baffled the small community. Wheeler was looking forward to her junior year at UNC-Pembroke as a criminal justice major when she disappeared. Investigators say Wheeler was last seen with friends at a campus dorm June 23. A few days later her car was found burned and riddled with bullet holes. Despite that, investigators were left with little to go on until this past weekend. A group of hunters discovered the skeleton in a rural part of the county.

Robeson County Detective Mark Locklear says there was not much evidence at the scene.

Investigators now know Wheeler was murdered and have begun the search for her killer.

Wheeler's body was found only three miles from where investigators found her burned out car. They say they have no suspects yet, but that the pathology report should tell them exactly how Wheeler died.

It could be several weeks before that report is completed.

Photographer:Mike Joyner