The body of a West Columbia man who had been missing since Christmas 2011 was found last week buried in a hole near Gaston.
Lexington County Sheriff’s investigators received a tip on where they could find Michael Jody George’s body from one of the three people previously arrested in the case, said Maj. John Allard, a sheriff’s department spokesman. George, 22, of of Edmund Highway had been buried in woods near a home on Busbee Road, which was the last place George had been seen alive.
The investigators were certain George was dead and had arrested two men on charges of kidnapping and murder. A woman previously had been charged with accessory after the fact to murder. Allard would not say which of the three told investigators where they could find the body.
“Primarily, the person was looking to help themsevles down the road,” Allard said.
The grave was in woods near the home of one of the alleged killers.
George’s body was recovered on Dec. 16 and an autopsy was performed on Dec. 17, the sheriff’s department reported in a press release. DNA tests confirmed the body was George’s but a cause of death has not been determined.
George was reported missing on Dec. 25, 2011 by his brother, John Wannamaker. That night, George’s father, Gary Frederick George, found his son’s 1994 Nissan Sentra on Beckman Road near West Columbia, the press release said. At the time, sheriff’s investigators used a helicopter and all-terrain vehicles to search the area where the car was found.
During the past two years, arrests in the case came at various intervals even though the body had never been found.
Jamey Charles Mallette, 36, of Gaston was charged on Feb. 15 with murder and kidnapping. He is being held without bond in the Lexington County Detention Center.
William Thomas “Tommy” Embree Jr., 35, was charged Dec. 18, 2012 with murder and kidnapping. He is serving a six-year prison sentence for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature at McCormick Correctional Institution.
Rachel Rae Fremion, 34, of Pelion, was charged Feb. 28 with accessory after the fact to murder. She was released from jail on March 1 after posting a $50,000 bond.
Investigators have accused Mallette and Embree of kidnapping George from Shooter’s Bar on Charleston Highway near Cayce and taking him to Mallette’s home on Busbee Road. The three were acquaintances, Allard said.
The kidnapping allegedly happened between 10 p.m. Dec. 23, 2011 and 5:30 a.m. Dec. 24, 2011, according to arrest warrants.
In an earlier arrest warrant, investigators said Embree put a visibly intoxicated and sick George into the 22-year-old’s car and drove off. Police found George’s blood and DNA in Mallette’s Busbee Road home during a search earlier this year, Allard said.
Fremion allegedly helped Mallette clean his Busbee Road home after the killing, according to her arrest warrant.
“Witnesses provided statements that show Fremion worked on numerous occasions to clean up a ‘bloody mess’ at Mallette’s home,” the sheriff’s press release said.
The motive for the killing remains under investigation, Allard said.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.