UPDATE: Monday 2:58 p.m.
Bladen County authorities have identified Kenneth Ross Covell, 54, as the body found in the Cape Fear River near Golf Course Road.
The body of the suspected murder victim was found roughly 1.5 miles down from the N.C. 11 bridge Saturday morning. Covell, 54, was from Pekoe Avenue, Durham.
Major Mac Warner of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office said the state medical examiner positively identified the body Monday after an autopsy. A cause of death has not been released, but foul play is suspected.
Divers and search crews from Bladen were assisted by teams from Columbus on Friday and Saturday. Detectives began looking for Covell after “credible” evidence pointed to a body being dumped in the Cape Fear River early last week.
Chris Rhodes, owner of Precision Search and Rescue, said he found the male victim on the Columbus County side of the river near Riegelwood around 9:30 a.m. Rhodes is a volunteer who has assisted law enforcement on numerous missing persons cases.
“He was hung up in a trash pile” that had been moved due to the high water in the river and wakes from other boats, Rhodes said. The body was near Golf Course Road.
“There’s a place where the river was straightened out, and when the water is high it flows in there,” Rhodes said. “It catches everything that comes downstream.”
This is a developing story.