Numerous law enforcement agencies searched a body of water in Sampson County on Thursday for a missing man who was killed in August 2014.
The body of James Allan Chambers II is still missing even though the suspect who killed him pled guilty earlier this year to the murder.
Howard Ashleman was sentenced in February 2018 to serve 15 to 19 years in prison for shooting Chambers to death in Fayetteville. Ashleman told law enforcement officers he dumped the 28 year-old victims body off a bridge but he doesn’t remember where.
WTSB News has learned that Smithfield private investigator David Marshburn has been working for months attempting to locate the Chambers body to allow his family to have some closure.
Marshburn told WTSB News he had spoken recently with a second person who may have been involved in the case but had yet to be charged. That person reportedly gave Marshburn information of where Chambers body might be, prompting the search Thursday in north central Sampson County.
Officials did not find Chambers body. At the request of law enforcement authorities, the exact location of the search is not being disclosed.
The search included law enforcement and search groups from Sampson, Cumberland, Lee and Moore counties.
Chambers was a civil contractor doing construction work at Fort Bragg. He was last seen alive in August 2014 by a former girlfriend. Prosecutors said there had been animosity between Chambers and Ashleman prior to his death. Chambers was shot to death in the cab of his truck.
Ashleman moved to Florida and got married. After finding religion, he reportedly confessed about the murder to his new wife. She notified police. He surrendered, and following plea negotiations was convicted in February.
Ashleman told Fayetteville Police he burned and buried the body in Cumberland County but later said he became worried it would be found and dug up the remains, dismembered the body, and placing the remains in plastic garbage bags. He drove to an unknown remote area where he tossed the bags over the side of a bridge. The pickup truck was sold by Ashelman to a salvage yard and crushed before Chambers was reported missing and the murder was uncovered.