The family of missing Hope Mills teen Danielle Locklear has been notified about a body that has been recovered from the South River.
Meanwhile, a source close the investigation has told WRAL-TV that officials believe the body is that of the 15-year-old girl who has been missing for 3 weeks.
Sampson County emergency services responded to the river around 5:27 p.m. Wednesday in reference to a body in the water off Hollow Bridge Road, just south of Autryville. Sampson County authorities quickly turned over the case to Hope Mills Police, which has been handling the investigation into Danielle Locklear's disappearance.
Investigators were still out gathering evidence in the river on Thursday.
While authorities cannot confirm the body is that of 15-year-old Locklear, members of the investigative team have been in contact with her family about the possibility, said Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo.
15-year-old Locklear, a student at South View High School, has not been seen since March 11th. Her family asked for prayers and privacy Thursday. A neighbor who has been following the case said Locklear's family may get the worst of news, but she has noticed how much support has been gathering around since Locklear went missing, and she hopes that helps.
“It doesn't make the news any better about getting a bad phone call about your child passing, but it definitely lightens the blow to know you have someone's arms to fall back on, that you're not alone,” said Kasey Andrews.
Andrews said having any news about what happened to Locklear may also help the family. She said she hopes that even if Locklear was killed, the family will find comfort in having answers about what happened to her.
“To know that she's not somewhere in somebody's house suffering, going through something – we've seen the Castro story – to know that's not going on, to know that she's at peace now, maybe not during but now she's at peace, to know that, yeah, that's bad and good news,” Andrews said.
Police have only said that the body was female. The body has been sent to the state medical examiner's office for positive identification and to determine a cause of death.
Locklear was last seen leaving her home on Trencholm Lane in the Fox Meadow subdivision, police said.
Police described Locklear as bi-racial, with black hair and green eyes. She stands 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighs around 150 pounds.
Police said more information will be made available once the medical examiner's office has made a positive identification.