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Authorities say body found off NC 50 in Cleveland community was Wendell woman

January 3, 2019

Johnston County authorities on Wednesday identified a body found last week off N.C. Highway 50 in the Cleveland community as a Wendell woman.

The body of Jennifer Michelle Chatham, 34, was found Friday night along Pierce Road, which is about a half-mile from the intersection of N.C. 50 and N.C. Highway 42.

A Virginia Beach (Va.) Sheriff’s Office deputy who was visiting the area called 911 to report the body off the side of the road. She said the body was partially clothed and appeared to have been dumped at the site.

“I came down this road about two hours ago, and it wasn’t here,” the caller told a 911 dispatcher. “So, it’s recent, real recent.”

Johnston County Sheriff’s Office investigators said the cause of death doesn’t appear to be suspicious, but the case remains under investigation.

Last summer, Chatham was the subject of a search after Raleigh police believed she had been kidnapped from a Walmart on New Bern Avenue.

A man had given Chatham and her boyfriend a ride to the Walmart, but when the boyfriend returned after going inside the store, the man’s van and Chatham were missing. She was found unharmed the next day, and police said she had left voluntarily with the man.

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