Transgender Salisbury woman found dead in Johnston County

Published 1:30 pm Friday, August 14, 2015

A multi-county search for a missing transgender Salisbury woman came to a tragic end Thursday, when law enforcement officers found the lifeless body of 20-year-old Elisha Walker buried in a shallow grave.

Walker’s body was found behind a house on Homestead Lane in Johnston County, according to a news release. Investigators from multiple counties were able to identify the body as Walker’s by property and description.

Known Latin Kings gang member Angel Arias, who formerly lived in a house on Hemlock Drive in Salisbury, has been charged in Walker’s death. Arias’ charges include felony larceny of a motor vehicle and murder.

Walker had been missing since November 2014. Family members reported Walker missing after she had not been in contact with friends or family since Oct. 23, 2014. At the time, family members said Walker normally kept in contact with them via calls, texts or social media posts on Facebook.

Before her dissapearance, Walker lived on Celebration Drive in Salisbury. She was known to regularly visit a residence on Hemlock Drive in the Westcliffe community, where Arias lived, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office released information about the case on Nov. 11, 2014, to help generate additional leads in the case, but none produced any significant information, a news release said.

Then, on Nov. 22 2014, a car used by Walker was discovered in an open field in Sampson County. It had been destroyed by a fire. A news release on Friday said the incident resulted in several leads. Arias, a 23-year-old, was subsequently named as a suspect in Walker’s disappearance.

The Sheriff’s Office announcement on Friday stated Arias spent a significant amount of time in Smithfield and Johnston County. Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators in February discovered Arias had moved out of his Hemlock Drive house in Salisbury and into Johnston County.

The next significant discovery came earlier this month, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Arias was being held in the Johnston County Jail on drug charges unrelated to Walker’s dissapearance. Investigators also identified a house on Homestead Lane in Johnston County as the possible location of Walker’s body.

Investigators from multiple agencies searched the Johnston County house on Thursday. The search began at 7:30 p.m., according to a news release. During the search, investigators found a small depression in woods behind the house.

Investigators dug up the grave and found human remains inside. The remains were identified as Walker’s, and were taken to the Raleigh Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy and final, positive identification.

Investigators subsequently obtained warrants to arrest Arias. He is being held without bail in the Johnston County Jail, awaiting transport back to Rowan County.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246