Catawba County sheriff’s deputies arrested a man after police found a woman’s body in a burned car Thursday.
Deputies made the gruesome discovery along Hopewell Church Road in Sherrills Ford.
The woman found in the car, 22-year-old Brianne Mary Ginty, was killed at her home several miles away near the town of Catawba.
Deputies have charged Jermaine Wilkes, 32, with murder, destroying remains and burning of personal property.
Deputies said the license tag led them to Ginty’s home Thursday night.
According to a search warrant, they found a butcher knife in the yard and what appeared to be blood on the door.
Deputies said they believe Wilkes, who knew Ginty, killed her at her home and then drove her car to the secluded area where he put her body in the driver’s seat and set the car on fire.
“He made a big mistake. Had he not set it on fire, like I say, it was so far down in the woods and bushes that we probably would have never found it,” said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid.
Investigators are not releasing a motive, but they said they believe Wilkes hitchhiked after the homicide to get back to his home.
Deputies said he has confessed to the slaying.
Wilkes is scheduled to appear before a judge Friday.
The owner of the property found the car. Clifford Sherrill said it started when a family member saw smoke on his 17-acre property and called him.
Sherrill said when he got to the car, the fire was out and the car was still smoldering. He said it was an unusual find because he rarely sees anyone on his property, much less on the overgrown dirt drive where he found the car.
Sherrill said a no trespassing sign was still connected to a steel cable that stretched across the entrance to the property when he went to investigate the fire.
He said he did not know there was a body in the car until firefighters told him.
“I think it’s terrible, worse than death,” he said.