A West Virginia man is accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, law enforcement said.
Andy J. McCauley Jr. was arrested and charged in Riley Crossman’s murder, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department said.
Riley has been missing since May 8, when her mother learned she did not attend school, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
McCauley has been a “person of interest since day one,” Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer said in a news conference Thursday.
Authorities believe they found Riley’s body Thursday morning, pending confirmation through an autopsy.
“While a complete identification can only be achieved by a pathologist, investigators believe this to be the body of Riley Crossman,” according to the statement.
The body was found positioned over an embankment in a rural mountain road section of Tuscarora Pike near the mountain top, the statement said.
Officials informed Morgan County Schools, where Riley attended, and counseling will be in place for students at Berkeley Springs High School tomorrow.
“Over 50 volunteer and community members participated in the search effort,” authorities reported.
Some locals and several organizations prepared food and drinks for the volunteers.
The rescue teams involved people from many areas, also several volunteers from the local fire department and Martinsburg Fire Department participated.
In total, “more than 300 volunteer and community members participated in the search effort”, according to a statement on Facebook.
The statement added that sixteen areas have been extensively searched, using people, K9’s and drones.
Missing Persons in the United States
Over 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Many of the missing adults and children are found safe but others are never found or are found dead.
“It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year,” the center stated.
After about a week, the person could very likely be dead, said former FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Gomez.
“There’s a certain point after about a week or two where you have to think, the potential that the missing person is dead and now it’s a matter of trying to find their body and bring closure to the family and to determine if you now have a homicide investigation, or suicide, or some kind of accidental death,” he said.
NTD News staff contributed to this article.