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A Florida man has been arrested this week after the body of a young mother was discovered days after she disappeared, according to authorities.
Eric William Westergard, 45, was charged with the premeditated murder of Perrin Damron, according to a statement by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. Westergard’s arrest came just hours after authorities announced that they found Perrin’s body on Monday.
“We regret to report that the body of 23-year-old Perrin Damron, who was reported missing Sunday, was recovered in a canal in Indiantown,” the sheriff’s office's statement reads. “Her death is being treated as a homicide, and an arrest has been made in the case.”
Damron was due to pick up her 2-year-old son from the child’s father, according to TC Palm, but she never showed up.
“Ms. Damron was extremely careful and a loving mother,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told the outlet. “And had not been in touch with the child since Friday.”
Those closest to Damron became worried when she failed to turn up to meet a pal.
“Damron was scheduled [to] meet up with a friend on Saturday but did not show up,” authorities posted on Sunday. “Her family said that is unlike her. Her vehicle is accounted for.”
Family friends informed deputies that Damron was with Westergard on Friday evening, the TC Palm reported. According to Snyder, Damron left with Westergard voluntarily after the suspect visited her house on Friday.
Snyder stated that Westergard was a friend of Damron's mother and her family.
Surveillance footage from a Ring camera showed Westergard near Damron’s home after he picked her up, according to ABC’s WPBF News.
“We were very suspicious of him,” Snyder told WPBF. “There was never a point where we were able to eliminate him from suspicion, and the suspicion grew as the case continued.”
Investigators went to Westergard’s residence in Jupiter Farms, where he was interviewed by Palm Beach County investigators.
“The suspect made incriminating statements,” said Snyder. “There was some physical evidence found at the house.”
Snyder said that Westergard led detectives to an overpass at Okeechobee Waterway, where Damron’s body was found.
No cause of death has been revealed and autopsy results are pending.
“I am always profoundly sad when someone loses their life in violence. The case obviously did not end like we wanted it to,” Snyder told WPBF. “We hoped from the beginning that we would find her. I was thinking about that this morning. I was thinking about her child, and a mother is gone, and that child will never know her mother, and there are a lot of victims in this.”
Westergard made headlines back in 2018 when one of his kangaroos escaped his Jupiter Farms animal sanctuary. He is currently being held at the Palm Beach County Jail without bond.
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