Virginia mom mysteriously disappears from front yard; young children found home alone

Police desperately search for a young mother who mysteriously disappeared from her own front yard

A 23-year-old man told police he strangled a woman who was found murdered in the woods two days after she went missing from her Middlesex County home.

TerriLynn St. John's cellphone and broken necklace were found in the front yard of the family's Middlesex County home.

Family members said they believed St. John struggled with someone in her front yard, near her vehicle, around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Shortly after, a homicide investigation was underway and a 23-year-old suspect, Alvin B. Keyser, was in custody.

Deputies told FOX 5 it was too early to tell if St. John had been abducted and that their investigation was now being treated as a missing person's case with suspicious circumstances.

St. John vanished from her driveway around 7:30 Tuesday morning, apparently as she was getting ready to take her kids to day care. An attempt had been made to cover the body, said Major Sampson.

WTVR reported that St. John's auto was still in the driveway, her cellphone was found in bushes outside her home and authorities found a broken necklace in the front yard. Authorities say Keyser is an acquaintance of St. John, but they are not sure how well they knew each other. St. John's father was concerned about his daughter and alerted the sheriff's office.

Investigators said Keyser admitted that he later pushed St. John out of the van, continued to hit her, and strangled her until she stopped breathing.

Afterwards, he loaded her body in the van and hid it in the woods a short distance away. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, March 5.

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The sheriff's office had deployed K9 teams and aircraft in the search for St. John, and put out an appeal for information on social media which they said helped lead them to the tragic discovery on Thursday.

At a press conference Thursday, the sheriff's office said more charges could be filed and more persons of interest will be interviewed.

When relatives went to her home to check on her, they discovered her children - ages 3 and 1 - unharmed, but home alone.

He said Keyser was not one of the four persons of interests in the case from whom authorities took DNA samples to analyze Wednesday.

Anyone with information was asked to call the Middlesex Sheriff's Office at 804-758-5600.

Police said the father of St. John's children lives in the area, but wasn't around when St. John disappeared.

Evidence collected at the scene has been sent to a state lab in Richmond to be analyzed.

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