A North Carolina couple has been charged in the death of a 28-year-old pregnant Black woman whose body was found in a suitcase along the Neuse River on Feb. 8.
The deceased, identified as 28-year-old Brittany Samone Smith by the state medical examiner’s office, was reported missing by her boyfriend this month.
Thomas Clayton Johnson, 37, and Emmalei Grace Trevathan, 24, were arrested during a Feb. 10 traffic stop in Raleigh, North Carolina. They each face charges of murder, murder of an unborn child, and concealment of a body.
When Smith first went missing on Feb. 4, her boyfriend Cody Page was immediately worried.
“Cody loved her very much,” said Dale Williams, a friend of Smith.
Smith and page had been living in a tent in the woods behind Williams’ Wendell, North Carolina, home for 10 months prior to her death.
“I didn’t have the means to put her up inside,” Williams told CBS17 of Smith, who was six months pregnant with a baby boy. “This certainly beats living under a bridge.”
Deputies searched Williams’ home after the body was discovered.
Deputies also questioned Page after Smith disappeared, but he wasn’t considered a suspect.
“That woman was my heart and soul. She was my backbone. She was the answer to my question,” Page said.
He also claimed that Smith had a “secret life” and was involved in drugs. Page said he had seen text messages between Smith and Johnson in which Johnson said he would pick Smith up. That was the last time he saw her.
Search crews discovered Smith’s body in a suitcase off Allen road on Feb. 8, just north of the Neuse River.
“It’s safe to say that this is no accident,” Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said. He said Smith was strangled but did not disclose a potential motive for her killing.
Johnson and Trevathan have been booked into the Wake County Detention Center, where they are being held without bond.
There “could be additional suspects, but we’re pretty sure we’ve got the two we need,” Baker added.