HARRELLS — After receiving a call that his son had been killed, a stepfather scoured southern Sampson, ultimately discovering his son’s abandoned vehicle in the Garland area. About 12 hours later, authorities found the body of 20-year-old Jamaris Pridgen in a shallow grave in the woods off Wilbur Pridgen Road, Harrells.
According to reports, on Saturday morning, Pridgen’s stepfather received an anonymous call stating that his stepson was dead and his body was located in Sampson County.
The stepfather started checking locations in the Harrells community, ultimately locating Pridgen’s vehicle, a Honda Civic, in a wooded area off C.C. Road, in close proximity to N.C. 411 and N.C. 41 in the Garland area. He called 911 around 9:30 a.m. Saturday upon discovering the Civic, authorities said.
Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area where the car was located.
“They discovered signs of foul play in the vehicle,” Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope said Monday.
Investigators from Sampson and Bladen counties, along with agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, began searching possible areas the victim was last seen. Shortly, after 9 p.m., about 12 hours after the call came into the 911 Center, a shallow grave was located in the woods on Wilbur Pridgen Road, about six miles from where Pridgen’s Civic was found.
“Investigators spent Saturday night and all day Sunday processing the crime scene and interviewing potential witnesses,” said Pope. “It is so close to the county line, we don’t know if he was killed in Sampson County or not.”
Pridgen, whose address was listed as 57 Isaiah Murphy Lane, Harrells, was actually living in Bladen County at the time, authorities said.
The investigation is ongoing and Pridgen’s cause of death is pending the result of an autopsy to be conducted by Sampson County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Barr. No possible motive for the killing has been disclosed, nor arrests made as of yet.
While there was nobody labeled as a suspect in the case, Pope said someone was being looked at for more information.
“The Sheriff’s Office has a person of interest in the case,” said Pope.
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.