A mechanic from an Alabama body shop is charged with capital murder after the body of a woman who disappeared after being seen at his body shop was later discovered, the News & Observer reported.
Michelle Hough, 54, was last seen on November 5 when she visited her mechanic, Kenneth Lawhorn, 58, who was helping her find a vehicle for her son, according to Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.
Surveillance footage from the body shop shows Hough entering in the afternoon but is never shown leaving. After she arrived, the footage shows Lawhorn leaving the body shop towing Hough’s car with a tractor-trailer. When Lawhorn returned to the shop later, Hough’s car was no longer in tow, according to Sheriff Taylor.
Authorities later received a report of a burning vehicle along the side of the road in Seale, Alabama.
The following morning, Hough’s husband came to the Sheriff’s office to report his wife missing. Further investigation confirmed that the burned vehicle found in Seale belonged to Michelle Hough. Her body was not in the vehicle at the time it was burned, Taylor said.
Initially, Lawhorn was charged with arson and theft in connection to the burned vehicle. But as investigators continued searching for Hough, they suspected that she was dead and Lawhorn disposed of the body.
On November 9, the sheriff said investigators had enough evidence to charge Lawhorn with capital murder robbery and capital murder kidnapping despite Hough still being missing.
The following day, Hough’s body was found.
Her remains were sent to the state Department of Forensic Sciences for a post-mortem.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, investigators are looking into Hough’s relationship with Lawhorn to determine if there might have been a connection between the two that could explain the motive for the killing.
Lawhorn is being held without bail at the Russell County Jail.