Crime & Public Safety

Female body found near Beaufort County crash site where teen went missing, officials say

A female body was found Sunday afternoon about five miles away from where teen Mallory Beach went missing after she was ejected from a boat that hit a bridge piling in Beaufort County, sources say.

Clothing on the body is similar to what Beach was wearing when she disappeared, a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office alert says. It says a boater discovered the body in a marsh area near the Broad River Boat landing. 

The body was found about 1:45 p.m., S.C. Department of Natural Resources spokesman Capt. Robert McCullough, said Sunday afternoon.

Beach was one of six people on a boat 17-foot boat that crashed at 2 a.m. into a bridge that crosses Archers Creek near a causeway leading to the gate of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

Beach, of Hampton County, works at It’s Retail Therapy boutique in Beaufort. She was previously a student at University of South Carolina.

Her family has described her as an advocate for animals, “always happy” and a Christian who “knows the Lord”.

DNR has been searching for Beach via divers, boats and helicopter since she went missing Feb. 24.

All five of the other boaters were injured in the accident, a Port Royal Police Department report says. It also said the boaters appeared to be “grossly intoxicated”.

The boat, registered to Alexander Murdaugh, had a large split in the hull and blood in the main compartment, the report says.

The report also says the driver was narrowed to one of two people.

DNR, who is leading the investigation, has said the department has yet to determine who was the driver of the accident.

Two people of the boaters have retained lawyers, McCullough, has previously said. He said at some point while at the hospital lawyers arrived.

Sobriety tests also were not given because DNR couldn’t determine who the driver was, McCullough said. He said testing multiple people could result in a case being thrown out if charges were brought.

The Beaufort County Coroners Office has taken custody of the body, the Sheriff’s Office alert says. A forensic autopsy will be performed at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

Teresa Moss is a crime and public safety reporter for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. She has worked as a journalist for 16-years for newspapers in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.