After arrest in Simon Powell case, deputies search for body
WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A day after an arrest in the disappearance and murder of a man who’s been missing for six years, authorities on Thursday were at a property in Burke County looking for the victim’s remains.
Deputies are looking for Simon Powell’s body in a wooded area at the end of Ponderosa Road. There’s a pond in the back of the woods along the road off Mike Padgett Highway, not too far from the Burke County line.
We’re told that deputies expect to be out here until they “find what they are looking for” or feel they don’t need to be there.
They packed up the search around 5 p.m. Thursday and plan to be back Friday at 7 a.m. to continue searching.
In the meantime, we got our first look Thursday at the booking photo of Stacey Welch, 38, whose arrest was announced Wednesday.
She’s charged with murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery in Powell’s case, according to Burke County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jimmy Wylds.
The sheriff said Welch did not confess to murdering Powell but told them the details of the role she played in his disappearance.
Wylds said deputies were searching the property on Ponderosa Road based on the information given during an interview with Welch.
“She has admitted some of her culpability in the crime, and that has led us to additional lead. Here it is six years later, and that finally came into place,” said Sheriff Alfonzo Williams.
Wylds said more arrests are expected.
SCENES FROM THE SEARCH:
“This has been a long six years,” said Williams.
Powell’s family has been searching for years, never losing hope that they would find out what happened.
“We made a commitment to them that we would get some fresh eyes on the case,” he said.
The sheriff says the motive may have been money.
“She may have played a role in luring Mr. Powell into a position of vulnerability where he was then taken advantage of, which may have ultimately led to his demise,” he said.
The search for Powell and other suspects is far from over.
“We got several phone calls we are following up on, information she has provided, and we are hoping to be able to bring more people to justice as well bring Mr. Powell home,” said Williams.
Williams says this break in the case is bittersweet for Powell’s family, and they will not stop until justice is served.
“They were very emotional. You’re relieved on one hand that there is some accountability and you’re saddened that he’s not going to walk through the door,” said Williams.
Powell was last seen on June 1, 2016. The next day, investigators found his truck burned.
In all that time, Powell’s family has never given up hope.
Just a few weeks ago, authorities renewed a spotlight on Powell’s case. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office had recently increased the reward for information on the case and issued an alert to be on the lookout for Welch, who was initially sought for questioning.
At the time the alert was issued, Wylds said her name had come up in the investigation and authorities wanted to question her to see what she might know.
People who live nearby say this investigation hits close to home.
“I recognized the end of the road because I live right here down the street. It’s just one of those moments where it hits really close to home,” said Jessica Ahliel.
Alisha Marshall says she remembers when they first found Powell’s car, and now six years later, this search being so close is scary.
“I remember when it first happened, and they found his truck. That was shocking as well. It’s devastating,” she said.
One arrest is good news because it puts the community closer to answers.
“They have an arrest, so that means somebody knows something. We need answers. The family needs answers. It’s been a long wait,” said Marshall.
Police are hopeful answers are coming soon as they continue to search these woods and anticipate making more arrests.
Ahliel said: “It’s heart-wrenching, and you don’t want anyone to go through it.”
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