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Body discovered on NC church lawn could be connected to missing-person case

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are conducting a death investigation after a body was discovered on the lawn of East Stonewall AME Zion Church in northwest Charlotte, according to WSOC.

A landscaping crew was working on the lawn of the church on Griers Grove Road and found the body, police said.

The pastor said the woman was behind a couple of boulders in the back of the property. Her body was partially decomposed, according to police.

The death is suspicious, but police aren't saying whether they suspect foul play.

The FBI confirms it is looking into whether the body is related to a missing-person case out of Virginia.

Shortly before 5 a.m. on September 18, Ashaniti Billie drove her cream-colored Mini Cooper through Gate One at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia.

She was heading to her job at a Blimpie sandwich shop on the base. She never showed up.

Now, authorities are investigating what happened to the 19-year old woman on that early Monday morning.

Her disappearance

Just 30 minutes after Billie drove through the gate, her car was detected on a surveillance camera leaving the base. The FBI says it doesn't know whether it was her behind the wheel.

Besides missing work, the woman did not attend culinary classes at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach that afternoon.

The agency says nobody has seen or heard from her since.

The investigation

The FBI is working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Virginia Beach police and the Norfolk Police Department.

Hours after her disappearance, her cell phone was recovered in a dumpster off the base in a residential area of Norfolk.

Five days later, on September 23, her car showed up in a quiet cul-de-sac.

"My mom instinct tells me she's OK. She's scared and she's hurt, but she's OK. I feel that she's OK and she's still with us. I feel that," Brandy Billie, her mother, told WAVY.

"We are doing investigative work in the areas around were some of the evidence was found," said Christina Pullen, a public affairs specialist with the FBI in Norfolk.

Joining the search are her family and friends, "it's just as parents, we have to do something. We can't sit at the hotel all day. We can only send out so much on social media. We have to be out here, because that's who we are," says Brandy Billie.