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Body found in search for Virginia store clerk who vanished moments after her shift ended

Ahrea’l Smith had just closed up a Little Sue convenience store when she disappeared.

A body matching the description of a Virginia store clerk who vanished last week after closing up the shop was found Tuesday, authorities said.

"After an extensive search operation throughout the day, search crews located a body, matching the description of Ahrea'l Smith, on property in Heathsville," the Northumberland County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. The body will be sent to the Richmond County Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

Earlier in the day, the office announced that it would "be partnering with federal, state, and local agencies to conduct multiple searches for Ahrea’l Smith," telling civilians to suspend their own search parties and expect an "an increased police presence in the county."

On Saturday, Tyrone N. Samuel, 50, of Heathsville, was arrested and charged with Smith’s abduction, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

He is now expected to face more charges, officials said.

Ahrea'l Smith was last seen at 9 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2022.
Ahrea'l Smith was last seen at 9 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2022.Northumberland County Sheriff's Office

Sheriff Johnny Beauchamp said last week that Smith was closing up the Little Sue store in Claraville, which shares a zip code with Heathsville, when she disappeared. Surveillance video shows she started her car at 9:05 p.m., and then got into another vehicle briefly.

She then went back inside the store, set the alarm, locked up and took a bag of trash to dumpsters behind the store, which were not in camera view.

Her car was discovered, still running, by a clerk who arrived the next morning, Beauchamp said. The person whose vehicle she got into while locking up was interviewed and is not a person of interest, according to the sheriff.

More than $9,000 had been raised by community businesses for information leading to Smith. Little Sue had offered $1,000.