MOULTRIE, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia woman missing for nearly three years was confirmed dead and police charged a former boyfriend in Louisiana with her death after recent DNA tests linked the case to human remains found nearly 250 miles (402 kilometers) from the woman’s rural home, authorities said Thursday.
Shada Esther was 29 when relatives reported her missing in August 2016 after she failed to pick up her three children at their school bus stop in the rural south Georgia city of Moultrie.
Authorities say the last person to see Esther was her live-in-boyfriend, Michael Heads. He went to Atlanta right after she vanished and later moved to Louisiana.
Now Heads, 49, has been jailed in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, near his home in Slidell and charged with Esther’s murder. It was not immediately known if Heads had an attorney representing him.
A break in the case came earlier in April. Human remains discovered in February 2017 in Banks County, 240 miles (386 kilometers) north of Esther’s hometown, were considered a possible match to Esther but had never been positively identified, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a news release Thursday. That changed when recent DNA analysis confirmed the remains were those of the missing woman.
The GBI said investigators had interviewed Heads in metro Atlanta and processed his car for evidence soon after Esther went missing in 2016. But he wasn’t arrested at the time.
The DNA match this month allowed investigators to obtain arrest warrants for Heads. The GBI said he was arrested Tuesday in Louisiana, where he faces extradition back to Georgia.