MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) -
Law enforcement agencies returned to the Francis Marion National Forest on Tuesday to search an area off Halfway Creek Road for the third time since Dara Lee Watson was reported missing last week.
The Mt. Pleasant Police Department will hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the case. Earlier Tuesday, authorities set up an investigation scene near the intersection of Iron Swamp Road and Clayfield Road.
A tip received by Mt. Pleasant police led the Charleston County Sheriff's Office to that area. Deputies assessed an area near Clayfield Road to determine if the area may be related to the Watson missing persons case.
Deputies say a fresh dig hole that led investigators to the area appears to be from a tree that fell over and is probably not related to the Watson case. A forensic unit is on scene testing soil samples.
Deputies then moved to Halfway Creek Road to search the area near where Watson's SUV was found burned up last Tuesday. Crews are searching off Halfway Creek Road, about a half mile before Guerins Bridge.
Watson hasn't been seen since Feb. 6 and authorities have been searching for her since Friday. Two friends of Watson's fiance, 34-year-old David Hedrick, found him dead in the couple's North Creek Drive home in the Rivertown Subdivision on Friday afternoon. The Charleston County Coroner's Office says he died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
According to incident reports provided by the Mt. Pleasant Police Department, Hedrick was found dead just a few hours after police questioned him about Watson's disappearance. On Tuesday, police found Watson's SUV burned up in the woods.
One of Watson's coworkers filed a missing persons report with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department on Friday after Watson had not been heard from for two days. Watson was last seen on Monday in Boone, NC by her mother.
Multiple agencies searched a wooded area Saturday and Sunday off Halfway Creek Road after finding Watson's SUV. On Monday, police were back at the house where Hedrick's body was found to take another look at the crime scene.
He first told police that Watson's disappearance didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary because she had left and gone to stay with a friend for a couple of days on a few occasions, but later added that she had never been gone for "this period of time" and he was beginning to worry.
According to the incident report, Patrick O'Neil and Charles Gilbert arrived at Hedrick's North Creek Drive home on Feb. 11 and found Hedrick's body lying horizontally on the bed in the master bedroom. A police officer described a "pool of blood building around Hedrick's head." The report also states that Hedrick's friend located a 9 mm handgun in the master bedroom's bathroom.
O'Neil and Gilbert say they were making their way up the back steps of their good friend's house when they heard a single gunshot.
O'Neil says leading up to Friday, Hedrick wasn't himself. He said the 34 year old was quiet and withdrawn. The two friends say things got more serious Thursday when they found out Watson was missing and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department was looking for her.
The friends say Hedrick told them "They gotta do what they gotta do." That is what led the two friends to his front porch, knocking on the door.
According to the couple's wedding website, they just got engaged in January. Dozens of pictures of the couple are posted on Watson's Facebook page, including several from international trips the two took together.