Two people have been arrested in Monroe, North Carolina in connection with the death of an 18-year-old Laurens County woman who had been missing since Friday, June 30.
The body identified by authorities in Union County, North Carolina of Kierstyn Mackennah Payge Williamson was discovered Tuesday afternoon, and murder and related charges soon followed for a North Carolina man and woman.
Joshua Newton, 25, has been charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice, while Victoria Smith, 22, has been charged with obstruction of justice and accessory to murder after the fact. Newton was denied bond on the murder charge, and bond was set at a combined $3 million for Smith.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim in this case as they begin to mourn this unimaginable loss,” said Union County (N.C.) Sheriff Eddie Cathey in a statement from the UCSO. “Over the past several days, the men and women of the Union County Sheriff’s Office have fully dedicated themselves to this case and ensuring the people responsible for this tragic loss were brought to justice.”
According to the UCSO, deputies began looking into Williamson’s disappearance on Sunday, and the investigation led them to a residence on Bethpage Lane in Monroe where Williamson was purported to be.
According to the release, deputies and personnel from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation began a 36-hour search and investigation into the circumstances surrounding Williamson’s disappearance from Laurens.
According to a social media post by Williamson’s mother, Williamson last made contact with her at 11:43 p.m. on June 30. The victim had gotten into an older Saturn vehicle with a man she had met only a few hours prior. Her phone last pinged in a wooded area in Western North Carolina before it was shut off.