2 in custody after missing 18-year-old found dead along South Carolina road

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Deputies have arrested two people in connection to the death of a missing 18-year-old from South Carolina. Investigators said the victim was killed after meeting someone through an online dating site.

In a news release Wednesday, Union County, North Carolina sheriff’s deputies said they began investigating the disappearance of Jacob Williamson on Sunday. Williamson was reported missing by family members in Laurens, South Carolina after being last seen or heard from on the evening of June 30.

Union County deputies believed Williamson to be at a home on Bethphage Lane in Monroe.

Investigators said Williamson had been talking to a man online, and that the two planned to meet in person for the first time Friday night. They said Joshua Newton picked Williamson near the restaurant where the 18-year-old worked in Laurens and drove the victim back to his home in Monroe -- more two hours away.

Family and friends had started to worry when they didn’t hear from Williamson, and Union County deputies were told Williamson might have been with Newton at his home.

“I think they had planned on meeting up and spend some time together on a date and that’s where [Williamson] met him. That was the plan,” said Union County Lt. James Maye. “And unfortunately, ended in the loss of [Williamson’s] life.”

After spending 36 hours investigating the circumstances around Williamson’s disappearance, the sheriff said a body believed to be Williamson’s was found Tuesday afternoon. Investigators found the body on the side of Mangum School Road in South Carolina -- a few miles from Newton’s house.

Investigators believe Newton killed Williamson at his home and his girlfriend helped him hide the body.

Deputies took Newton and 22-year-old Victoria Smith into custody and have classified the case as a homicide investigation. Joshua Newton, 25, has been charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. Smith, Newton’s live-in girlfriend, has been charged with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact.

‘You ripped our hearts out’

Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz spoke Thursday with Williamson’s uncle, Chad Bible.

“[Williamson] was a very, very, trusting ... didn’t see the evil in the world. That didn’t register with [Williamson], that wasn’t a thing,” he said.

Now the family is left with so many questions.

“You don’t just go out of town one day and decide one day, ‘I’m going to go out of town pick somebody up and kill them.’ That doesn’t just pop into your head,” Bible said.

“Why... What did it do? What did you prove? You’re throwing your life away and you ripped our hearts out.”

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim in this case as they begin to mourn this unimaginable loss,” Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in a statement. “Over the past several days, the men and women of the Union County Sheriff’s Office have fully dedicated themselves to this case and ensuring the people responsible for this tragic loss were brought to justice.”

Detectives asked anyone with information to call 911, the UCSO Main Office at 704-283-3789, or Union County Crime Stoppers at 704-283-5600. Tips can also be submitted via the UCSO’s free app.

Investigators also urged the community to be careful meeting people online.

(WATCH BELOW: Man charged with murder in connection with shooting in Union County, deputies say)

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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