The workers of a Virginia horse farm knew something was off Tuesday when 23-year-old Terri Lynn St. John, who lived across the street, didn't show up for her job.
So her boss called a family member, who went over to St. John's house in Middlesex County. The family member found her children, 1 and 3, unharmed. But he couldn't find their mother.
On Thursday, 23-year-old Alvin B. Keyser, who detectives say was an acquaintance of St. John, admitted he got into an argument with her on Tuesday morning outside her house, as she was getting her children ready for day care. Keyser then hit St. John and strangled her, before loading her body into his van and discarding it in the woods nearby, according to the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office.
The disappearance of St. John's rattled her community, and detectives for two days worked into the early hours of the morning, trying to track her down, said Middlesex Sheriff's Major Michael Sampson. Her family told officers early on that they thought St. John was attacked, based on the jewelry they found strewn near her car, which appeared to be broken off. Her cell phone was found in the bushes, according to CBS News.
Keyser, of Topping, Virginia, is charged with first-degree murder and attempting to conceal or alter a dead body, Sampson said. He is being held without bail at the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center in Saluda, Virginia.
Keyser had been questioned by detectives Wednesday night, and then reached out to detectives Thursday morning with more information, Sampson said. Keyser told detectives that he confronted St. John at her house on Tuesday about something she had said about him. St. John hit him, so Keyser hit her back and then pushed her out of the van Keyser was driving, Sampson said.
Keyser then continued to hit St. John and strangled her, Sampson said. He then loaded her in the van and took her body to the woods.
Sampson said Keyser admitted that certain items found near St. John's house belonged to him. Keyser led detectives to St. John's body Thursday morning.
The children are safe and are in the custody of their paternal grandfather, Sampson said. Detectives have not found evidence suggesting St. John and Keyser were romantically involved.
Keyser is due in court on the charges on Monday.