Tifton police continue investigation after missing woman found in shallow grave

Tifton police continue investigation after missing woman found in shallow grave

TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - Tifton police are investigating the death of Laura Aguirre, 24, who they said was reported missing Friday and her body was found the next day.

Police said they discovered the body of Aguirre in her backyard. One neighbor, who didn’t want to go on camera, said police were here investigating the area all weekend.

Matthew Howard, 24, has been arrested and charged with felony murder.

Matthew Howard
Matthew Howard (Source: Tift County Sheriff's Office)

Tifton Police Chief Steve Hyman said they received a call Friday morning, reporting Aguirre hadn’t shown up to work.

“It started out as a missing person and trying to determine if she was missing or whether she had just walked off. As we got more and more, and people started talking, we were able to determine more,” said Hyman. “We put out a BOLO on GCIC to surrounding agencies that she was missing.”

Hyman said investigators went to the home she and Howard shared, but didn’t go inside.

“We feel that we did not have probable cause to be inside the house or because someone else had already checked the house prior to our arrival and told us nobody was in the house. Therefore, the officers, without a search warrant, didn’t need to be going into the house,” explained Hyman.

Chief Hyman said they were trying to find Howard at that point, as well.

“Saturday morning, he was located and then trailed, and then finally we were able to pick him up here in Tifton at a residence,” said Hyman.

The chief said Howard was brought back to the police station to be interviewed.

“About that time, 911 put out a call to the units that some family members had discovered her in the backyard under some stuff,” said Hyman.

Chief Hyman said investigators went back to the home and confirmed it was Aguirre’s body there.

“It wasn’t something you could just see there in plain sight on first initial walkthrough,” explained Hyman.

Chief Hyman said they called in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) crime scene technicians.

Aguirre’s body was taken to the GBI crime lab for an autopsy. She had three children, who are now living with family members.

“This is important to us and Laura was. Finding her was important to us. We’re sad that three children lost their mother and family lost their daughter and sister. We care. We’re going to continue working this case to make sure we got what we need,” Hyman told WALB News 10.

Chief Hyman said investigators are working now to build a tight case, where they can get prosecution and justice for Aguirre and her family.

This is an ongoing investigation.

WALB is working to confirm exactly what the relationship was between Aguirre and Howard.

Anyone with any information on this case is urged to call the Tifton Police Department at (229) 382-3132.

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