Virginia Mother TerriLynn St. John Found Dead, Covered in Leaves Not Far From Her Home

Crime - Deborah Hastings

A 23-year-old mother, who vanished from her front yard as her children played inside, was found dead and covered in leaves Thursday, less than a mile from her home, authorities said. 

Alvin Keyser, also 23, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and concealing a dead body after leading investigators to the remains of TerriLynn St. John, according to Middlesex Sheriff's Maj. Michael Sampson.

“Keyser stated to detectives he confronted St. John at her residence about statements that were made about Keyser. Keyser stated that St. John struck him, and he struck her back he then pushed her out of the van Keyser was driving,” Sampson said in a statement.

St. John got into the van willingly, according to Sampson. Investigators say Keyser admitted that he pushed St. John out of the van, continued to hit her, and strangled her until she stopped breathing. Then he covered her with dead leaves, authorities said. 

The mother and Keyser were acquaintances and the two were friends on Facebook.

Authorities did not say how they knew each other.

St. John was reported missing after she failed to show up for work Tuesday. Family members went to her home and found her car still in the driveway and her children, ages 1 and 3, inside the home. The front door was standing open, authorities said. The children were unharmed.

Relatives said they found signs of a struggle. 

“They looked through the woods and you could definitely tell there has been a struggle beside my daughter’s car,” said father Terry St. John, according to CBS affiliate WTVR-TV. “Jewelry was all around, like it had been broken off. Her cellphone was found in the bushes.”

Keyser has not yet appeared in court. 

At a press conference Thursday, the sheriff's office said more charges could be filed and more persons of interest will be interviewed.