Deputies, search and rescue teams searching Robeson County area Monday for woman last seen in September

North Carolina

ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) — More than 50 deputies and searchers are searching in the Rowland area Monday for Jessica Lawrence, who was reported missing Tuesday but last seen in September, according to Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins.

“We hope for the best, but we’re just assuming we’re going to see the worst based on what we’ve found so far,” Sheriff Wilkins said.

The North Carolina Search and Rescue Teams from State Emergency Management are assisting in the search. Monday morning, officials were searching in the area of Hubbard Road, according to Wilkins. Wilkins said searches in the area are a result of information and evidence found in her car, residence and near the road.

“We found some evidence along this road late last week that gives us reason to believe she could possibly be here,” Wilkins said. “We’re just going to continue to search for her here. We are awaiting some other information to come in, hopefully later today, that could possibly direct us to another location just a couple of miles from here.”

Crews used drones and cadaver dogs to search the area. The brush was so dense in some area that they had to cut through with machetes. Wilkins said crews also searched several ponds, some chest-deep.

“Some of them are on foot, some of them are on four-wheelers,” Wilkins said. “The cadaver dogs are trying their best to, worst case scenario, try to locate her.”

Lawrence was reported missing Tuesday by a family member. Deputies originally said she was last seen Sept. 26 leaving her job at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on Owen Drive in Fayetteville but later said she was last seen at her home on Coy Road in St. Pauls by a probation officer who came to check on her boyfriend, Michael L. Brayboy, 42, of Rowland. Wilkins said her phone died that evening and was not turned back on.

“It’s one of those where I wish we had a quicker report of her missing,” Wilkins said.

Lawrence’s jeep was found Thursday in Red Springs and Brayboy was driving the vehicle, according to officials. He was arrested and charged with failure to report a change of address by a sex offender. Brayboy is being held on a $1.5 million bond. Sheriff Wilkins said the high amount is due to his criminal history, which includes a 23-year prison sentence for first-degree rape.

Officials are calling Lawrence’s disappearance “suspicious.” The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office is awaiting forensic evidence results from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at 910-671-3170.

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