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Sheriff: Three charged after search for missing woman leads to human remains

Published: May. 22, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 12:27 PM EDT
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MACON, N.C. (FOX Carolina) - The Macon County Sheriff’s Office said deputies charged three people after human remains were found during the search for a missing woman.

Deputies said their investigation began when a family member filed a “missing person” report on Friday, May 20 and told them she had not heard from her sister in several weeks. Following this report, deputies began working with the family member and the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office to try and find the missing woman or the people she spent time around. Through their initial investigation, deputies said they narrowed down their search to two areas of Macon County.

“Based on credible information, two locations were considered to be possible crime scenes and meticulous searches would be conducted by our team, said Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland. “The first crime scene was a location where the missing person was last seen alive and the second is where the missing person may currently be located.”

Friday night, deputies secured both scenes and began searching with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and the District Attorney’s Office. During the search, they discovered human remains at one of the locations.

During the investigation, Christopher Shields was initially identified as a person of interest and later became deputies’ prime suspect. Deputies from the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office located and detained Shields during a traffic stop as he went into Georgia. Macon County deputies then went to Rabun County on Saturday morning and formally charged Shields with kidnapping. Shields is also charged with three counts of assault by pointing gun, two counts possession of firearm by convicted felon, and one count of assault and battery. His bond is set at $1.2 million.

On Monday, May 23, Sheriff Holland said charges were filed against two suspects, Jessica Rita Smith and Dereck McCrackin, who were considered to be dangerous.

Smith is charged with felony first degree kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.

Later Monday morning, the sheriff said with the help of Rabun County Deputies, McCracken was taken into custody in Rabun County. On Monday evening, deputies confirmed that Smith turned herself in.

“Working with our District Attorney, we have made the decision to not release the name of the victim due to pending autopsy and not until identification of the remains can be made. Investigators with the MCSO have been in communication with the family of the missing person as she is the only active missing person case in Macon County.

Sheriff Robert L. Holland

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Robbie Younce with the Criminal Investigations Unit at (828) 349-2268. People can also submit tips anonymously by calling the Crime-Stoppers hotline at (828)349-2600 or using the Macon County Sheriff’s Office app.