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20-year-old's body found in shallow grave, Sampson County Sheriff's Office says

HARRELLS, N.C. (WNCN) - The body of a 20-year-old man was found in a shallow grave in Sampson County over the weekend after a relative received an anonymous tip about the man's death, the sheriff's office said. 

On Saturday around 9 a.m., the step-father of Jamaris Pridgen received a call from an anonymous person saying his step-son was dead and his body was in Sampson County, the sheriff's office said. 


“It’s bizarre, and unusual. It tells me whoever is doing the calling was compassionate, had a heart, concerned for the loss,” said Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton.

The step-father started searching the Harrells community, the sheriff said.  Around 9:30 a.m. he found Pridgen's car in the woods on CC Road, and called 911.

Thornton said responding deputies found evidence of foul play in the car, but declined to say what specifically.

“When the phone calls started coming in, then we began to realize — particularly with the vehicle being located in one location — there was more to it than just being a simple missing person,” Thornton said.

The SBI, along with law enforcement from Bladen County, began assisting the Sampson County Sheriff's Office as they searched for Pridgen.

After nearly a 12-hour long search, Pridgen's body was found in a shallow grave in the woods on Wilber Pridgen Road just after 9 p.m. Saturday, according to the sheriff’s office.

Pridgen’s family said he was very giving and very loving.

The cause of Pridgen's death is pending an autopsy. 

The Sampson County Sheriff's Office said it has identified a person of interest. However, Thornton is asking anyone with information to come forward, especially that anonymous caller.


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