Man facing charges in girlfriend's death

Michael Jason Berger (Image courtesy Moore County Sheriff Office)
August 23, 2012 1:46:31 PM PDT
A Moore County man is facing murder charges after his girlfriend's body was found near the county landfill Wednesday.

Michael Jason Berger was arrested after 33-year-old Crystal Rae Smith's body was found in a wooded area off N.C. Highway 5 between Aberdeen and Pinehurst.

Authorities said they learned about the incident after a concerned citizen reported a possible homicide.

Berger and Smith had been living together in Aberdeen when the incident happened, according to officials.

They said 35-year-old Berger had been released from the Moore County Detention Center more than two months ago after serving a four month sentence for assault on a female and strangulation, involving another victim.

Documents showed Berger tied the woman up with a belt and electrical tape, strangled her and took her phone battery so she couldn't call for help.

An autopsy is being done on Smith's body, but police told ABC11 that they believe her body had been there for days and that it looks like she might have been strangled.

In the meantime, Berger has been charged with one count of murder. He is being held in the Moore County Detention Center without bond.

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