Body found at I-20 rest area 11 years ago identified - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Body found at I-20 rest area 11 years ago identified

Posted: Updated:
Michelle Haggadone (Source: National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) Michelle Haggadone (Source: National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)
Michelle Haggadone (Source: Darlington County) Michelle Haggadone (Source: Darlington County)
Boyer during a murder hearing in New Hanover County, NC (Source: WECT) Boyer during a murder hearing in New Hanover County, NC (Source: WECT)

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) After more than a decade of searching with no answers, the Darlington County Coroner's Office has finally identified a woman found strangled to death at an Interstate 20 rest stop.

Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee said Tuesday authorities have identified the woman as Michelle Yvonne Haggadone of Bolivia, NC. Haggadone went missing in the summer of 2000 and hadn't been seen or heard from since. She was 34 at the time of her disappearance.

Since the discovery of the body near in August of 2000, the coroner's office has worked diligently to identify the woman, with all efforts made unsuccessful. Hardee said then coroner Eldridge Norton continued working on the case even after his term as Darlington County Coroner ended shortly after the discovery.

"I made Coroner Norton aware of any new leads as they would arise over the years," Hardee said. "This case became very personal to Mr. Norton and I respected that. This case file sat on his desk all these years as he exhausted lead after lead. He was determined to put a name with this body [and] said to me many times that he hoped the Lord would allow him to live long enough to finally know her identity."

The body's identity finally came after the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office submitted an unidentified DNA sample to a national database.

In 2005, DNA was taken from the remains and sent to a laboratory. In 2008, Haggadone's family submitted their own DNA for testing. Officials said the case wasn't a priority case, which is why it took several years for the match to come back.

Coroner Norton held a funeral for the then unknown woman with the assistance of the Darlington County Sheriff's Office, said Hardee. She was laid to rest in Magnolia Cemetery in Hartsville with "Known only by God" inscribed in her headstone.

"After eleven long years, she is now known to us all," Hardee said.

During a press conference Tuesday, officials announced the arrest of John Wayne Boyer, a former truck driver who is currently incarcerated in North Carolina on a separate murder charge.

Haggadone was reportedly strangled and dumped at the rest area. Officials said they interviewed Boyer about a week before the announcement and he admitted to murdering Haggadone.

Boyer worked for Twisdale Trucking Company at the time of the murder and worked for numerous other trucking companies prior.

Boyer pled guilty to second degree murder after killing a woman and dumping her body in Wilmington in 2003. He is currently serving a 12 year sentence for that conviction. Boyer has also been indicted on murder charges out of Tennessee and will be transferred there once his sentence has been served in NC.

Hardee added that he and Capt. Andy Locklair with the Darlington County Sheriff's Office both made the trip to North Carolina to formally inform Haggadone's family of the discovery.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow