RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The suspect in the killing of a Fort Bragg soldier led investigators to the woman's grave in thick woods that had never been checked despite repeated foot and aerial searches by hundreds of volunteers, the victim's mother said Thursday.
Johnna Henson of St. Cloud, Florida, said Fayetteville police informed her Wednesday that they were led to the remains of Pfc. Kelli Bordeaux, 23, by information provided by Nicholas Holbert. He made a first court appearance Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping and was ordered held without bail.
"I had hoped all this time that she was going to come back and now there's no coming back," Henson said Thursday. "Nicholas Holbert took them to her. So that's pretty definite that, yeah, that's her. And he confessed to killing her."
Holbert, 27, recently led investigators to the remains, which were found in a densely wooded area about four miles from the bar, Police Chief Harold Medlock said Wednesday.
Hundreds of rescuers had scoured the area but never zoomed in on the particular spot where the remains were located until Holbert told investigators where to look, Medlock said.
"It was specific information from Holbert that took us to that location," Medlock said.
Positive identification of the body could take several days, he said.
Holbert spent almost five years in prison for molesting a 5-year-old when he was 16, according to state Division of Public Safety records. Holbert was convicted in October 2012 of failing to notify authorities that changed his home address as required by the state's sex offender law. He was released from jail a year ago.
Bordeaux was last seen alive with Holbert on April 13, 2012 at a Fayetteville bar, about a half-mile from her home. She spent the evening shooting pool and singing karaoke before leaving with Holbert, who was living in woods behind the bar.
The two had a fight in the bar's parking lot before Holbert knocked the woman unconscious, police investigators state in an arrest warrant reviewed by the Fayetteville Observer. Holbert then put Bordeaux in his car and drove her to his camp site behind the bar, where he hit her several more times in the head until she was dead, the warrant said. Police did not return messages on Thursday.
Bordeaux's husband was visiting family in Florida, where the couple had met, the weekend that she died. The couple was in the process of separating but remained friends and neither was unfaithful to the other, Hanson said.
"She'd worked hard all week and wanted to go have some fun and sing karaoke and have a couple drinks. She's 23 years old," said Hanson, who added that she spoke by phone with her daughter shortly before she went out for the evening. "Her intentions were not other than to go out and have a little bit of fun, not run around with somebody. Not anything like that. Not even close."
Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio.