Federal grand jury indicts man in death of lodge worker
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a man in the slaying of a co-worker at a North Carolina mountain lodge.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release Thursday that 20-year-old Derek Shawn Pendergraft is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Sara Ellis, a 29-year-old cook from Florida.
Prosecutors said Pendergraft, who was a housekeeper at the Pisgah Inn, reported Ellis missing, telling investigators that he and Ellis went for a hike after they both finished work July 24. Agents said Pendergraft returned from his hike and told his managers that she was missing.
Searchers found Ellis’ body near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Court documents show an inn manager called investigators the next night and told them Pendergraft had confessed to the killing.