DA: Missing woman Jessica Padgett dead; stepfather charged

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A 33-year-old mother of three who had been missing since Friday has been found dead and police say her stepfather has been charged in her death.

Jessica Padgett, a 33-year-old mother of three who had been missing since Friday, has been found dead and her stepfather has been charged in her death.

Investigators announced charges against Gregory Robert Graf, 53, on Wednesday.

Padgett's body was found buried beneath the shed on the property her mother shares with her stepfather on Covered Bridge Road in Allen Township.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said during a news conference that while a motive is still being investigated, the crime may have had a 'sexual' aspect.

"There was definitely a sex angle to this crime. That is still being developed in terms of the exact nature of it. Based on what the investigators have learned there was some motive that involved a sexual assault, I would call it, or an attempted assault on this victim," Morganelli said.

Police say Padgett arrived at Duck Duck Goose daycare, where she worked, at 8:30 a.m. Friday with her 2-year-old son.

She left in the early afternoon, telling co-workers she needed to use a fax machine at her stepfather's business 'Distinctive Fencing.' It's located next to the home he shares with Padgett's mother.

Her son remained at the daycare.

Authorities say Graf confessed to shooting his stepdaughter of 20 years in the back of the head, burying her body behind a shed and moving her car away from the scene.

Her vehicle, a white Subaru Outback, was later recovered outside a Dollar General store in Northampton Borough.

Police say Graf is an avid hunter and used one of his guns in the crime.

Police say they executed a warrant on his home Tuesday. He allegedly gave a statement in which he admitted to intentionally causing Padgett's death.

Family and friends had spent days searching for her. Police say Graf, who had been Padgett's stepfather for much of her life, had been part of those search parties.

Padgett was married just a few months ago. The devastated family released a statement thanking police and media.

"She was a beautiful, vibrant young woman who was beloved by her family and friends. The world shines less bright today," said Lt. Joseph Sokolofski, Pennsylvania State Police.

Investigators expect to learn more details about Padgett's death once an autopsy report is complete.
Related Topics:
missing personmissing womanpa. newsNorthampton Borough
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