Neighbors shocked after woman’s body found buried in South Augusta backyard

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The doors on the home at 1778 Tobacco Road are boarded up. First responders were called to the house on Thursday. They found 43-year-old Melissa Lockhart injured with a broken knee. After looking around the property, deputies found a recently dug grave in the backyard and human remains inside.

“It’s pretty scary actually,” Wayne Lathrop says.

According to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Lockhart identified the remains as her mother — 67-year-old Miriam Lockhart. Melissa told investigators she found her mother dead in bed a few days earlier. She admits she buried her mother in the backyard because she did not want anyone to “take Miriam from her or to cut (perform an autopsy) on her,” according to documents.

Naveed Gojali owns a gas station just yards from the Lockhart home. He has known Melissa for more than 20 years.

Melissa Lockhart

“She was a really nice person,” Gojali says. “I was actually thinking about hiring her. It’s crazy.”

Neighbors tell NewsChannel 6 they heard people fighting in the Lockhart home in the weeks leading up to the discovery of the body. Documents reveal the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office was called to the home in February. When they arrived, Miriam told deputies she was scared of her daughter. She claimed her daughter yelled at her and worried Melissa would “hit or kill her.” Melissa denied the accusations, and claimed her mother yelled at her. Deputies did not see any physical injuries on either woman at the time and reported the incident to Adult Protective Services.

Melissa has been arrested in connection with Miriam’s body being found in her yard. She has been charged with concealing a death, probation violation and state court bench warrant.

The Richmond County Coroner tells NewsChannel 6 an autopsy was performed on Miriam’s body Tuesday. Results are expected on Wednesday.


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