SANFORD, N.C. — The search for a missing North Carolina man that began in late December has come to a heartbreaking and disturbing end with the discovery of a barrel in the woods.
The Lee County, North Carolina Sheriff's Office announced on Thursday that deputies conducted a property search along Farrell Road in Sanford, North Carolina roughly a week earlier on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26.
It was during this search that detectives found a 55-gallon barrel in a heavily-wooded area. In that barrel, the sheriff's department said it found concrete and human remains.
With the assistance of the North Carolina State Medical Examiner's Office, authorities were able to remove the concrete to find a body in the barrel which they now believe belonged to 40-year-old Michael "Mike" Bradley Cox.
The Lee County man, investigators said previously, had not been heard from or seen since Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2022.
Further investigation led to the arrest of another man, Jackie Lamar Bright, but had been arrested on more than one occasion for unrelated charges following Cox's disappearance.
Following the discovery of the victim's body, Bright was taken into custody again and charged with murder. While the sheriff's office doesn't specifically say what led up to the death and how they connected it to Bright, a statement released on Thursday said that Bright's property was the subject of the search warrant that ultimately led to the barrel and Cox's body.