ROCK HILL — Laurie OBerry a jewelry-maker who often rode her bicycle and enjoyed walks in the woods was supposed to pack her bags on Monday and move in with a neighbor across the street. On Tuesday, police found OBerrys body lying in a creek behind a Rock Hill shopping center.
Authorities say they dont suspect foul play in OBerrys death. Her body was discovered Tuesday afternoon in the woods behind the Honey Baked Ham Co. cafe at The Market on North Cherry Road after police followed up on a missing persons report from a day earlier. She was 52.
York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said OBerrys death is under investigation. Autopsy results were not available Wednesday. OBerry did not suffer from any traumatic injuries, said Gast, adding that her office is treating the death as suspicious because OBerry was found in the woods.
Police are interviewing witnesses who often saw OBerry park her bike at the shopping centers Subway, said Mark Bollinger, Rock Hill Police spokesman.
OBerrys sister, Cassie Walker, told police Monday she last saw her sibling at her Ellen Avenue home on Friday, according to a Rock Hill Police report. OBerry was scheduled to move across the street with her neighbor, but did not show up when it was time to move, the report states. A young boy in the neighborhood told the sister that he last saw OBerrys bicycle behind the Subway restaurant on Cherry Road.
Walker said she and her son found the bike at Subway and called police. Walker told The Herald that an officer did not search Monday for OBerry, telling her family that because OBerry was 52, lived by herself and was able to talk on the phone, looking for her was not necessary.
Police said they searched the area on Monday night, but did not go into the woods because it was too dark and they had no reason to believe O'Berry was there since it's possible she walked away. Walker believes officers could have used a flashlight.
Officers returned Tuesday and, according to Bollinger, laid out a search pattern that included rifling through garbage bins, checking cars in the parking lot and moving deeper into the woods behind the shopping center. They found OBerry in the creek below an asphalt culvert drainage pipe.
A manager at Honey Baked Ham Co. declined to comment. The manager of the nearby Subway restaurant also declined to comment, referring The Herald to Subways corporate Rock Hill office, Houston Enterprises. Employees there declined to comment.
Neighbor Rhene Erwin said she last saw OBerry on Saturday morning when they walked to a yard sale. OBerry had recently finished making a handmade bracelet that she gave to another neighbors daughter.
She was a sweet lady, Erwin said.
OBerry had just moved to Ellen Avenue from Lesslie a month ago, Erwin said. She rented a room in a house, but planned to move out when her landlord sold the property. Erwin said she and her husband agreed to allow OBerry to live with them. Her move-in date was Monday.
We even cleared out a room for OBerry, Erwin said. When she learned OBerry was missing, Erwin said, I hoped they would find her alive.
While police dont believe foul play is a factor in OBerrys death, Erwin is skeptical. She feels something must have gone awry when OBerry parked her bike. Its a sad...weird situation, she said. It ... just scares me.
OBerry is survived by four children two of whom live in Georgia and four grandchildren.
OBerry lived a very hard life, said her daughter, Caroline Collier. She suffered from third-degree burns on her legs, had just recently been released from a burn center and was born without a right hand.
She was a wonderful woman...everybody loved her, Collier said. Shell be greatly missed.
Another daughter, Cayla Pierce, said her mother was very creative and fashioned the beaded bracelet she wore around her wrist. Collier said her mother enjoyed walks in the woods and often took her daughters along with her. She told them she wanted her ashes to be scattered in nature.
She died next to a beautiful creek ... very serene ... quiet, Collier said. They think she went peacefully ... Im at peace.
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082