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Body of missing Michigan woman believed to be found, authorities say

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Nov. 29, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Nov. 29, 2023 03:57

(CBS DETROIT) - The Genesee County Sheriff's Office says the body of a missing woman, Kelly McWhirter, is believed to be found more than a month after she was last seen.

In an update on Wednesday, Nov. 27, Sheriff Christopher Swanson said authorities received a call at about 1:20 p.m. about a body in St. Charles. Swanson said a hunter was out in the area of Ryan and Shannon roads with his bird dog when the body was found.

He said they are working to confirm the victim's identity.  

"We believe that body is of Kelly McWhirter. There was significant trauma to the body. There were clothing ... that indicate the last known clothing that Kelly had on that day on Oct. 14," he said. "We are working hard to confirm that identity. DNA testing and dental records, that takes days."

Authorities announced last month that they were opening a homicide investigation after McWhirter's ex-husband, Steven Higgins, was considered a suspect.

Higgins shot himself in the head after a confrontation with authorities during a traffic stop in the area of Elms and Wheeler roads in Montrose. 

Swanson said investigators found Higgins' cellphone broken and thrown into a ditch in Montrose, and they also found McWhirter's phone broken and thrown into a ditch across the street from where they found Higgins' phone. 

Additionally, a body bag, shovels and other landscaping tools were found in the back of a Ford F-150 that belonged to Higgins. There was also a significant amount of blood and contaminants in the body bag.

"This is no longer a rescue; this is a recovery. This is a homicide investigation, and our suspect is dead," Swanson said last month.

McWhirter was the secretary for the county's board of commissioners, and she used to work for the sheriff's office. 

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