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Body found in Pender not missing woman, suspect still charged with murder

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police say a body found earlier this week in Pender County is likely not that of a Wilmington woman missing for several weeks.

At an afternoon news conference, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said it appears the body found off Hoover Road near Hampstead is not Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk, who was last seen at a downtown Wilmington bar April 5, but further testing is still needed. Investigators had charged James Opelton Bradley, who worked with Vannewkirk at a landscaping company, with her murder.

District Attorney Ben David said during the news conference that Bradley is still charged with Vannewkirk’s murder. Now a second homicide investigation has been opened with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office and WPD. Investigators say Bradley is a suspect in that case as well.

Police say they will continue to search for Vannewkirk’s body.

Evangelous said this development comes as a surprise to all involved.


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