Body found near Boat House identified

Authorities have identified an Augusta area murder victim found this morning near the Savannah River off Prep Phillips Drive.

The body of Teresa Lea McElderry, 53, of the Evans-Augusta area, was found on a dirt road, not far from the Boat House, according to Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen. Ms. McElderry was identified through fingerprints, Mr. Bowen said.

Richmond County sheriff’s deputies were flagged down by a man who found Ms. McElderry’s body about 9:55 a.m., sheriff’s Lt. Scott Peebles said in an e-mail. The man, who often takes his work breaks in the wooded area near the river, is not a suspect at this time, Lt. Peebles said.

The sheriff’s office has not released information about the victim’s injuries or other evidence found at the scene, but Lt. Peebles said the death would be treated as a homicide.

He would not say whether police think the victim was murdered at the site or dumped there. He said it’s likely she had been there for at least 24 hours.

"I think that this is a relatively fresh crime scene," he said.

A Georgia State Patrol helicopter was circling the scene looking for other bodies and taking pictures of the area, he said.

Ms. McElderry’s body will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta for an autopsy Saturday morning.

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