PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman who was reported missing near Decatur earlier this week was hit by a car and the driver then moved her body, authorities say.
Melody Rohrer, 64, was reported missing by her husband Monday after going for a walk on County Road 215 near Territorial Road in Van Buren County’s Hamilton Township.
“The time frame when she did not get back was concerning to him,” Sheriff Dan Abbott said. “It was unusual for her. She was in good health.”
When deputies went to where she had last been seen, Abbott said, they found something that worried them.
“One deputy near the scene did find some items that belonged to her on the side road. With that and based on the evidence that was at the scene, we felt initially that something bad happened. We felt that she may have been hit by a vehicle and removed from the scene,” he said.
The sheriff said his team was highly motivated to find out what happened.
“This one hit home with a lot of people. It just seems like a senseless act took place, so guys and gals worked a lot of overtime on this one to try and get a quick resolution for the family,” he said.
Using surveillance video and evidence, particularly forensics, the sheriff’s department developed a suspect driver. Abbott said that person was initially not helpful but that he ultimately cooperated with investigators and told them where Rohrer’s body was.
She was found early Tuesday afternoon in some woods in St. Joseph County. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday to determine the precise cause of her death.
The sheriff’s office says the driver, a 29-year-old White Pigeon man, was also arrested Tuesday afternoon. He was expected to be charged with vehicular manslaughter, failure to stop at the scene of a serious personal injury accident and concealing the death of an individual.
“He ended up working with the detectives, but to say he was forthcoming immediately? No,” Abbott said. “Fortunately, he did cooperate with detectives before it was over with and we were able to get closure for Rohrer family.”
The suspect’s name was not released Wednesday released pending arraignment. His court appearance was initially expected to happen Wednesday afternoon but has yet to be scheduled.
—News 8’s David Horak contributed to this report.