WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The search for a missing woman might have ended Tuesday night. But, not the way family and friends had hoped.
Tuesday, police accused James Bradley, who was convicted of a 1988 murder, of killing Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk. She was last seen alive April 5 at the Husk bar in downtown Wilmington.
After countless prayers, more than 20 days of searching and more than 1,000 hours of detective work, police now believe they have found Vannewkirk.
"Our gut told us early on this was not going to be a good outcome," Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said at a Wednesday morning news conference.
Tuesday morning investigators discovered human remains off Hoover Road in Hampstead.
"We are waiting on confirmation of those remains from the medical examiner's office," Evangelous said.
Bradley has been charged with murder before. According to a 1988 story in the Fayetteville Observer, Bradley killed his 8-year-old stepdaughter by beating and strangling her.
He was released from jail in 2013. Tuesday night, police arrested him at a traffic stop.
Investigators have not released many details in the case. They think that Vannewkirk and Bradley knew each other.
Friends say they both worked for Mott Landscaping. We reached out to the owner, but have not heard back.
Bradley also declined an interview. He is in the New Hanover County Jail without bond.
Vannewkirk's friends say they are in shock. They said they were too distraught to talk to us today.