DOBSON — A body recovered from a shallow grave in the Lowgap community, where it was covered with cement, has been identified as that of a missing man who died from a gunshot wound.
The victim is Charles Daniel Smith, according to the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. Smith was 37 and resided at 246 Eagles Nest Trail in Lowgap.
Smith’s remains were found at 104 River Rat Lane after authorities executed a search warrant there Wednesday.
An investigation that led to the search stemmed from a missing person report that was received by the Surry Sheriff’s Office on April 26. Smith’s mother reported him missing.
After that report, investigators from the Sheriff’s Office established probable cause to issue and execute the search warrant at the River Rat Lane site, located off Odis Cave Road.
However, due to the condition of the remains found Wednesday, neither the gender nor identity of the person could be readily determined, Sheriff Graham Atkinson said.
The remains were sent to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for an autopsy Thursday morning, in order to establish facts including the cause of death.
Results of the autopsy were released Thursday afternoon, pinpointing Smith’s identity and the fact he died from a gunshot wound.
Atkinson said the investigation was continuing as to the facts and circumstances surrounding the death, which has been ruled a homicide.
Two single-wide mobile homes are located at 104 River Rat Lane, according to county tax records which show Peggy Jean E. Crawford of 120 River Rat Lane as the landowner.
“The area that we searched there is adjacent to one of the single-wide mobile homes,” Atkinson said. A metal building on the grounds of that residence also was searched, with Smith’s body found in a shallow grave inside covered with cement.
About 15 people were involved in what the sheriff described as a meticulous operation. In addition to members of the Surry Sheriff’s Office, it included crime scene personnel from the State Bureau of Investigation, the Surry County Emergency Medical Service and Skull Camp Volunteer Fire Department.
The fire department brought equipment to the scene, as did Horizon Equipment Rentals, which supplied digging capabilities the investigators didn’t have access to, Atkinson said.
The process included the unusual step of the medical examiner who would perform Thursday’s autopsy coming to the scene to assist with the excavation, according to the sheriff. “I’ve never seen that before,” he said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.