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She disappeared from her driveway while her children were home. Police found her body in the woods.

The Middlesex Sheriff’s office said the body of 23-year-old Terrilynn St. John was found about one mile from her home in Wake, Va. on March 1. (Video: 13 News Now)

Workers at a Virginia horse farm knew something was off on Tuesday when Terri Lynn St. John, 23, who lived across the street, did not show up for her job.

So her boss called a family member, who went to St. John’s house in Middlesex County, Va. The family member found her children, 1 and 3, unharmed. But he could not find their mother.

Police said that Thursday, Alvin B. Keyser, 23, who detectives say was an acquaintance of St. John’s, admitted that he got into an argument with her Tuesday morning outside her house as she was getting her children ready for day care. Keyser hit St. John and strangled her, then put her body into his van and discarded it in woods nearby, according to the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.

The disappearance of St. John rattled her community, and detectives for two days worked into the early hours of the morning, trying to track her down, said sheriff’s officer Maj. Michael E. Sampson. Her family told officers early on that they thought St. John had been attacked because they found damaged jewelry strewn near her car. Her cellphone was found in bushes, according to CBS News.

Keyser, of Topping, Va., is charged with first-degree murder and attempting to conceal or alter a dead body, Sampson said. He is being held without bail at the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center in Saluda, Va.

Keyser was questioned by detectives Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning he made contact with detectives to provide more information, Sampson said. Keyser told detectives that he confronted St. John at her house on Tuesday about something she had said about him. Keyser claimed that St. John hit him, so he hit her back and then pushed her out of the van he was driving, Sampson said.

Keyser then continued to hit St. John and strangled her, Sampson said. He then loaded her body into the van and took it to woods near Barricks Mill Road.

Sampson said Keyser admitted that certain items found near St. John’s house belonged to him. Keyser led detectives to St. John’s body Thursday morning.

The children are safe and in the custody of their paternal grandfather, Sampson said. Detectives have not found evidence suggesting St. John and Keyser were romantically involved.

Keyser is due in court on the charges on Monday.

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