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UPDATE: Body of missing man found, NC resident located

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Charles Edward Martin Jr. may be in his champagne-colored 2005 Ford Explorer with Virginia tags USP-6589.


A passerby located the vehicle of a missing Stuart man on Saturday and police found him deceased in the vehicle.

A large search had been underway to find Charles Edward Martin Jr., 56, who had been missing since Jan. 15. On Saturday morning, someone saw Martin's Ford Explorer that appeared to have run off the road. State Police found Martin's body inside the vehicle.

A passerby discovered the vehicle off of Route 8, over an embankment, 100 feet south of Route 660. The Ford Explorer ran off the right side of the roadway and struck several trees, a State Police release stated.

At approximately 8:20 a.m., State Trooper R.S. Lawson responded and noticed the ground had been disturbed near the road and into the woods. Lawson climbed the embankment and found Martin's Explorer overturned into thick brush and not visible from the road, a Patrick County Sheriff's Office release stated.

Lawson found the deceased Martin inside of his vehicle wearing his seatbelt. State Police have determined the crash occurred at 8:23 a.m. on Jan. 14 on Route 8 at Five Forks Road. The preliminary investigation indicates Martin was traveling northbound at the time when he ran off the road, releases from both departments stated.

The body has been taken to the Medical Examiner's Office in Roanoke to determine the cause of death and the State Police release stated the investigation of the crash is continuing.

Said Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith: "Please keep the Martin family in your prayers. This was not the outcome we had hoped for."


As the search for a missing Stuart man has been expanded, a Patrick County deputy located another missing man from North Carolina after a traffic stop.

Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said his department has continued to search for Charles Edward Martin Jr., 56, of Single Shop Road in Stuart since his disappearance was reported to them on Tuesday.

“We’ve been conducting aerial searches by airplane thanks to the assistance of a private citizen,” said Smith late Friday. “The Virginia State Police is now assisting with their helicopter units and will continue through the weekend.”

Smith said the Patrick County Patriots organization has supplied over a dozen volunteers who have been assisting in searches on foot while deputies and state police comb the roadways.

“We need the public’s input on this because that’s how this is going to be solved,” Smith said. “Somebody somewhere knows something.”

Smith asked the public to continue being vigilant and observant and if you see someone matching Martin’s description or his vehicle, call 911, or 276-694-3161.

Martin, who was described by the Sheriff’s Office as someone who never missed a day of work where he was employed at Stuart Forest Products, had not been seen since Jan. 15.

By Tuesday morning his employer, several of Martin’s family members and Patrick County deputies searched his residence, but did not find Martin or is champagne-colored 2005 Ford Explorer with Virginia tags USP-6569 with a Washington Redskins logo on the back glass.

In a release, the Sheriff’s Office described the disappearance as suspicious and an investigation was begun.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a missing North Carolina man was found by Patrick County Sgt. Winfred Hill after a routine traffic stop.

According to a release from the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office, Hill was on routine patrol when he noticed a vehicle on Jeb Stuart Highway traveling about 20 mph. He followed the vehicle for a while and eventually pulled the driver over.

Larry Smith, 75, of 1643 Longview Drive in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told Hill that he had spent the night in his vehicle and was lost, the release stated.

Hill made contact with Smith’s family in Winston-Salem and family members drove to Patrick County to pick up the missing Smith, the release stated.

Smith was found by Hill at 6:36 a.m. and the family told officers that Smith suffered from multiple health issues, the release stated.

Said Sheriff Dan Smith: “This was a tragedy in the making that was avoided because of Sgt. Hill’s actions.”

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-591-7543. Follow him @billdwyatt.

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