A 21-year-old woman who went missing in Missouri in mid-May was found dead last week, authorities say. Her body was hidden in a “grave” that was recently dug near a home outside Cape Girardeau.
The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news release that an intensive investigation began after Jessi Wilfong was reported missing on May 25 by her mother.
On June 15, the investigation led detectives to a home in Cape Girardeau, where a search warrant was executed. Officials said they obtained evidence at the residence that reportedly pointed to foul play.
“From the evidence collected and other information obtained from the investigative process, it was suspected that foul play was involved in the disappearance of Ms. Wilfong,” Cape Girardeau County Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson wrote in the release.
Several days later, police investigated a nearby barn where they found the body of Wilfong. The ground where the young woman had been buried appeared to be “recently dug,” the sheriff’s office said.
On June 20, an autopsy was performed on Wilfong’s body that confirmed her cause of death was a homicide.
Investigators now believe that Wilfong may have been buried inside the barn by her uncle Lawrence Schanda and his girlfriend Teresa Baumgartner, FOX3 reported, citing court documents.
Dickerson said that on June 22, prosecutors filed charges against Baumgartner that include tampering with physical evidence in a felony investigation.
The sheriff noted that the investigation is still ongoing and “additional charges are anticipated against one or more individuals.”
On June 8, Schanda was questioned by police and told investigators he and Wilfong had been involved in a verbal dispute early on May 19, days before she was reported missing by her mother, FOX3 reported, citing a probable-cause statement.
The verbal altercation with his niece erupted after she allegedly provided law enforcement with information about his unlawful drug activity. Schanda hasn’t been arrested or charged in connection with the case.
Wilfong was last seen alive in surveillance footage on May 19 in Millersville around the same time her uncle and his girlfriend picked her up from her home in Fredericktown.