SANFORD, N.C. (WNCN) — Two days after a missing person case was opened in Lee County, the body of a missing 17-year-old was discovered in neighboring Harnett County.

The teenager has been identified as James Devon Snipes by the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

Snipes was found deceased in a wooded area near Buffalo Lakes Road and Cooks Lane where investigators from both counties responded to Thursday morning.

Lee County deputies had been searching for Snipes, who lives in Sanford, since Tuesday and said the teen was last seen at his home on Olivia Road around 11:30 p.m. Investigators said Snipes’s mother reported the teen missing and her vehicle, a Hyundai Tucson, stolen.

Sanford police and Lee County Sheriff’s deputies were able to locate the stolen vehicle near North Horner Boulevard. In an update, officials said the driver fled from a parking lot and crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of Broadway Road and Cox Mill Road. After the car flipped, law enforcement chased the driver who exited the sunroof of the car and ran to a nearby housing development. Deputies apprehended the driver and two others who were in the car— a 19-year-old and two juveniles.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said during the investigation deputies obtained information that led them to Harnett County where Snipes’s body was found.

At this point, deputies have not said if the apprehended individuals and stolen vehicle had any connection to the teen’s death and disappearance.

Close friends and family members of Snipes said the teen had recently graduated, loved sports and music, and always made the best of any situation.

Mary Elise who lived with Snipes’s family said the teen was like a nephew to her. She said, “He could turn any situation… you could literally be having the worst day ever and here comes James, he would make the whole day better… James was just one of those people you could always come to, talk to, and be comfortable around.”

Elise said the 17-year-old’s death has come with a heavy loss and many are searching for answers.

She said a great young man was taken too soon. Elise added, “Everyone’s really hurt… realizing that he’s really gone and that he’s not coming back, that’s the hardest part.”