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Murder charge leveled against a suspect in missing person case

Authorities have arrested a man in connection with a missing person case that has been active since the spring of 2015. At about that time, the 57-year-old man disappeared from his Richfield, North Carolina home. The Rowan County Sheriff's Office recently arrested a man on a murder charge for the intentional killing of the missing person.

On Dec. 12, the missing man's body was found by hunters on the side of a hill in the county. Sheriff's officials and the North Carolina State Medical Examiner's Office identified the decomposed remains as the missing man. The investigation reportedly is ongoing, but officials  have not revealed why the suspect was arrested or given any details of the relationship, if any, between him and the deceased victim.

Presumably, the medical examiner has issued a report indicating that the man was killed by violent means pointing to murder. Without that finding, however, the arrest would likely be premature. It appears from sketchy reports that the authorities are acting on tips from witnesses or third persons who have contacted the police. Criminal defense counsel must engage in defending the case immediately by investigating and determining all of the pertinent details of what occurred.

Counsel will, of course, first of all interview the suspect to find out his position and what he knows about the matter. If he has submitted a statement and confessed to the police, counsel will have to determine the legality of the procedures used by the police to obtain the confession. Such incriminating statements may be suppressed if they were not given voluntarily and knowingly, or otherwise violated constitutional safeguards. At this point, the murder charge is largely undefined and the matter is primarily one of fact-gathering. That will eventually be followed by a more concerted effort to discuss and determine the defense strategy going forward.

Source: wsoctv.com, "Officials: Man arrested, charged with murder in Rowan County", Dec. 18, 2015

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