BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (WJZY) — Investigators have arrested two people in concealing the death of a missing Morganton man who was found nearly a month later 15 feet underground in a well.
According to investigators, 41-year-old Dwayne Alan Smith and 46-year-old Donna Lorrene Hagy are charged with felony destroy body/remove conceal unnatural death in the death of 56-year-old Howell Thomas Buchanan Jr.
Investigators say that Buchanan was reported missing on Aug. 12, and had been missing for some time. Investigators were not successful in locating him at his last known addresses.
On Sept. 30, several interviews led investigators to the 4900-block of Old N.C. 18. Investigators discovered what appeared to be a relatively fresh dig site with heavy equipment on an old powerline right-of-way.
An excavation of the site was done on Oct. 18 where a well was located under the fresh dirt and Buchanan’s body was found.
Buchanan’s ex-girlfriend, Hagy, was arrested and charged with concealment of death and was booked into jail on $50,000 bond. Smith was also arrested and charged with concealment of death and was booked into jail on a $75,000 bond.
Hagy and Smith are not charged with Buchanan’s murder. According to investigators, the person responsible for Buchanan’s death died days after the murder took place. Investigators believe Buchanan died from blunt force trauma and strangulation and was already dead prior to being put into the well.