ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) - An Asheville man accused of killing a worker at the Pisgah Inn this summer has been indicted on upgraded murder charge, according to the Department of Justice.

A news release from US Attorney Andrew Murray states Derek Shawn Pendergraft, 21, has been indicted for first degree murder and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in the death of his Pisgah Inn co-worker, Sara Ellis.

Pendergraft had previously been charged with second degree murder.

On July 25, 2018 court documents state Pendergraft reported Ellis missing and her body was later found down an embankment near a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Transylvania County.

Court documents state Pendergraft later admitted to the manager of Pisgah Inn that he was responsible for Ellis’ death and he was arrested a short time later.

Pendergraft is due in court on December 7 for the upgraded murder charge.

If convicted, Pendergraft can face up to life in prison for either charge.

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