JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. - Remains found in Johnston County, North Carolina, have been identified as a missing person from Rowan County, deputies said.
The remains have been identified as Elisha Walker. Walker identified as transgender.
Investigators searched a property Thursday outside Smithfield and found human remains buried in the woods behind a residence.
The medical examiner’s office in Raleigh positively identified the remains as Walker.
"He was a joy wherever he went. People could remember him cause he was always smiling and always had something sassy to say,” Walker's mother, Rhonda Alexander, said.
Alexander said she will always remember those things about her youngest child.
The graduate of North Rowan High School was transgender and family members said he recently began transitioning to a woman.
In October he told his mother about big plans to move out on his own, but she never heard from him again.
Walker, 20, had not been in contact with any friends or family since Oct. 23.
"I knew by Nov. 1 if I hadn't heard from him something was wrong, becasue he was anticipating moving,” Alexander said.
The family reported him missing.
Eventually deputies found Walker’s car burned and abandoned in an open field in Sampson County, but they never found Walker.
The car helped detectives zero in on Angel Arias, 23, a known Latin Kings gang member.
They searched his former home in Salisbury with no success, but recently learned of another house to search in Johnson County.
They found Walker’s remains Thursday night; buried in a wooded area behind the house.
Detectives arrested Arias and charged him with murder and felony larceny of a motor vehicle.
Alexander is grateful to have some closure and justice for her son.
“I want him to think about this for a long time. How he hurt my son, how he harmed my family,” Alexander said.
Arias is being held under no bond in the Johnston County Jail awaiting transport back to Rowan County.