Local law enforcement agencies believe they have found the body of a missing Bennettsville woman on Friday.
The Marlboro County Sheriffs Office, the Bennettsville Police Department, the Chesterfield County Sheriffs Department and the Wallace Activation team searched a wooded area in Marlboro County Friday afternoon near the Domtar Paper Company for Monesha Shantae Brown who was reported missing on June 16.
Brown, 29, of Bennettsville, was last seen on June 5 before officials found her body in the woods near S.C. Highway 38 on July 23.
The Bennettsville Police Department arrested 37-year-old John Lee Hogan, Jr., and charged him with murder after Brown’s body was found.
Hogan, of 452 Marks Circle in Bennettsville, became a person of interest after a State Law Enforcement Division forensic artist used witness accounts to make a composite sketch of the suspect.
Police officials were drawn to the search area after interviewing Hogan.
Brown was last seen with a man matching Hogan’s description and a search of Hogan’s vehicle and home was conducted by the Marlboro County Sheriffs Department, the Bennettsville Police Department and the SLED Crime Unit.
Information received from that search prompted investigators to interview Hogan and a second search was conducted which led to the body.
Over 50 law enforcement officials were on the scene, using helicopter, horseback and ATV teams to search the area for Brown.
“We’re using lots of resources,” Bennettsville police chief Larry McNeil said at the scene. “We are searching the area and are taking an opportunity to just check around.”
Law enforcement officials set up a command center in a vacant lot beside Sandy Ocean BBQ in Bennettsville. The crew then used a team of ATVs to search the woods by ground along with a Chesterfield County Sheriffs Department helicopter to search by air. An autopsy was ordered after the body was found by coroner Tim Brown at the Medical University of South Carolina.
The Bennettsville Police Department thanked all assisting law enforcement agencies for their help in the search.
“We would like to thank the many groups involved in the search and the investigation which include the Bennettsville Police Department, SLED, the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Wallace/Brightsville Fire Department and Search and Rescue, Marlboro County E-911 Services and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and police department,” Marlboro County Sheriff’s Lt. Jamie Seales said in a statement Friday. “Ms. Brown’s family has been instrumental in this investigation and has worked hand-in-hand with the Bennettsville Police Department and the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office to provide information. We thank them greatly for their patience and dilgence.”
Hogan was taken into custody at the Marlboro County Detention Center waiting a bond hearing and trial.