Body of missing woman found

May 20, 2008 3:02:12 PM PDT
Authorities confirm that the body of a missing Angier woman has been found in South Carolina . A Charlotte insurance agency owner is charged in her death.

Police have identified a woman's body found in a wooded area south of Charlotte. But they won't yet say if it is the state insurance investigator who they believe was killed by the owner of an agency she was sent to audit.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokesman Bob Fey said Tuesday afternoon that authorities won't release the identity of the body until they notify the dead woman's family.

The body was found near Fort Mill, S.C. That's about 25 miles away from the insurance agency that 44-year-old Sallie Rohrbach was assigned to review.

Forty-year-old Michael Arthur Howell of Indian Trail is charged with first-degree murder. Howell, who will appear in Superior Court in Mecklenburg County, was being held Monday in the county jail. No lawyer has been appointed.

Rohrbach, of Angier traveled to Charlotte early last week to audit Dilworth Insurance Agency records. But when family and co-workers didn't hear from her by Friday, they called police. She was last seen Wednesday between 3 and 4 p.m.

On Monday, officers announced the search for Rohrbach is no longer a rescue mission, but now a recovery.

"Unfortunately, there's still that hope. But, more than likely, what we're looking for is her body. And that priority is to locate her and bring her home as soon as I can," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Information Officer Julie Hill said.

Rohrback's state-owned Chevrolet Malibu was found Sunday morning at a Bojangles' restaurant in Charlotte, less than a mile from the agency.

Officials say they are confident in their arrest; based on interviews conducted with people and an accumulation of evidence, physical and other information. Authorities also say that evidence was found in Howell's and Rohrback's cars, but declined to elaborate.

Department of Insurance Spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said Rohrbach was covering for another investigator when she went to Charlotte. Pearson sent out a statement following the news of Rohrbach's body being found.

"We are devastated that all hope is lost, but we also find a sense of closure in knowing that we can lay to rest our dear friend and colleague with the dignity and respect she deserves. Not knowing where to find her was torturous, so at least in that regard there is some relief," Pearson said. "We pray for peace for Sallie's family and want them to know that we grieve with them."

Howell made an initial court appearance Tuesday, where a judge denied his request for a public defender.


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