July 20, 2012
Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy on a body found in Lambsburg, Va., to see if it is that of a Mount Airy man assumed murdered in October 2010.
Michael Thomas Hawks was considered the victim in a murder case in Alleghany County that year, even though investigators never found a body. Three people, James Bradley Upchurch and his wife Rebecca Jane Wright Upchurch, both of 550 Speas Mill Road, Cana, Va.; and Wayne Thomas Lawson Jr., of 406 Durham Street, Mount Airy, were all arrested and charged with felony murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder in the case.
Those charges stemmed from a multi-jurisdictional probe after the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office reported that it received information on Oct. 26, 2010 about a possible murder that had occurred at 1136 Mountain Lake Road, Ennice.
The three were arrested in December 2010 and had been scheduled to go to trial next month. Investigators have been tight-lipped about details in the case, not releasing any information on why they believed Hawks was killed in the absence of a body.
Earlier this month, on July 9, the body in question was discovered after the Alleghany Sheriff’s Office received a lead that a body might be buried in an old well off of Chestnut Grove Road in Lambsburg. After digging for a couple of days, officials found the badly decomposed remains.
Although Alleghany Sheriff David Edwards wouldn’t say whether a tip about the location of the body came from one of the three murder suspects in Hawks’ 2010 death, he said the Hawks murder is the only open case in Alleghany County relating to a missing body. He also confirmed the body from the well had been sent to a Roanoke, Va., forensics lab for DNA analysis to confirm if the body is that of Hawks.
Edwards wasn’t sure when the DNA analysis might be returned because he said his department typically doesn’t deal with Virginia forensics labs.
“There’s not much more I can say,” Edwards said. “Until we find out for sure it is Michael, we can’t say much of anything.”
Edwards said he court case will most likely be continued after this new development.
Virginia and North Carolina state bureau of investigations also are working with both sheriff’s offices in the ongoing investigation, Carroll County Sheriff John B. Gardner said.