CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – Family members of 76-year-old Minnie Woodard believe the body found off River Road in Chesterfield Thursday is in fact their family matriarch.
Though police did not identify the woman, they did confirm at a press conference that the body is tied to Woodard's abduction Wednesday involving suspect, Kristopher Jones.
Those family members say they are comforted in knowing that Minnie is not suffering anymore.
Minnie Woodard's brother called her the family's matriarch, saying she would always pitch in and take care of others in need.
Family members say Mr. Woodard can’t stop crying Thursday night as the family awaits for the official word from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Federal, state and local law enforcement were investigating about half a mile away from a Chesterfield convenience store that an abduction suspect may have attempted to rob on Wednesday.
The initial search of a wooded area Thursday morning occurred along Chesdin Road. Shortly afterward, U.S. Marshals arrested suspect Kristopher Jones at 10:15 a.m. in Norfolk, on warrants for carjacking, abduction, attempted armed robbery and grand larceny charges.
Police sources said Jones told law enforcement he left a body near a woodpile.
Not long after his arrest, the search moved over to a section in the 8300-block of River Road, where a woman's body was found in a secluded area behind a vacant residence. Police avoided answering a reporter's question if the search for Mrs. Woodard continued. They said the body will be sent to the Medical Examiner.
The violent situation began Wednesday morning, Jan. 18, when Minnie Woodard's husband Alfred said that Jones forced him into his own SUV outside his S. Jefferson Street home.
Abduction from home and attempted robbery
Jones instructed Mr. Woodard to drive to a Dinwiddie ATM, but when he could not get money from the ATM, he said Jones made him drive to the Bank of America, in the 1900 block of S. Crater Road to get cash.
"Apparently, he alerted a teller at the bank that he was under some type of duress. And they, in return, called the police," Petersburg Police Capt. Brian Braswell said.
Before police arrived, Jones drove off in Woodard’s vehicle.
Petersburg Police later spotted the black four-door 2008 BMW 7 sedan with Virginia handicap tags 435-027 and gave chase. The pursuit headed toward Dinwiddie, then to Hopewell and back to Dinwiddie before it ended without a suspect in custody.
Mrs. Woodard discovered missing, with blood in the home
Mr. Woodard told police he believed his wife was at home but that he had not seen her since earlier in the morning.
When police arrived at the Woodard's home to continue the investigation, Mrs. Woodard was not there. The Woodard family said they found a knife wrapped in a towel behind a curtain, and blood was in the house.
Girlfriend of Jones found dead, one block away from Woodard home
A family member who saw that Jones was wanted for the abduction and carjacking contacted police and asked them to do a welfare check at the home. Police found Janice Celeste Lugo, 52, dead around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. She lived in the 100 block of Jefferson Street, and the Woodards lived in the 200 block.
Andrew Clement, the Woodard’s son in law, said detectives from Petersburg were headed down to Norfolk to talk to Jones.
The Woodards have been married for at least 55 years. Mr. Woodard is a pastor at the Mt. Sinai Church in Petersburg.
Arrest in Norfolk
Thursday morning at approximately 10:15, officers found the black 2008 BMW police had been looking for in a parking at the Lowe’s Home Improvement located in the 1080 block of North Military Highway in Norfolk.
Jones was observed standing near the vehicle, and when he noticed law enforcement vehicles in the area, police said he quickly got behind the driver’s seat of the BMW. The BMW was immediately blocked in by law enforcement vehicles and Jones was taken into custody before he could drive away.
Jones is currently in the custody of the Norfolk Police Department.
CBS 6 is following this story and will update throughout the day with new information.
Sequence of events (based on what is currently known):
Mr. Woodward is abducted and taken to the Bank of America.
Police respond to Bank of America.
Police pursue suspect. Suspect gets away.
Blood is found at the Woodard home.
An attempted robbery in Chesterfield County, near the Petersburg line.
A welfare call leads to the discovery that the central suspect's girlfriend, who lives near the Woodards, is dead in her home.
Police search Chesden Road, near where attempted robbery occurred.
Jones is arrested the next day in Norfolk. Sources say he told them where he left a body.
Police search River Road, near where they searched earlier.