Authorities: 2nd cousin named suspect in death of missing 19-yea

Authorities: 2nd cousin named suspect in death of missing 19-year-old girl

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Chris Grissom (Photo source: Russell County Sheriff's Office) Chris Grissom (Photo source: Russell County Sheriff's Office)
Keonte Chavis Keonte Chavis
SEALE, AL (WTVM) -

In a press conference Monday, Russell County authorities released the identity of the suspect in the death of 19-year-old Keonte Chavis over the weekend.

Chris Grissom, 29 has been named as the main suspect. Authorities say evidence shows he was the last person Chavis was with. Grissom is also the second cousin of the victim.  

Authorities say when the homicide occurred, Grissom was fleeing Jacksonville, Fla. after a warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear in court for domestic violence charges filed by his girlfriend.

Sheriff Heath Taylor said that Grissom was on his way to New York. Taylor said Chavis' homicide does not appear to have been planned, but that Grissom does have a "violent past."

Taylor said they grew up together in New York, but were staying at the great-grandmother's house in Fort Mitchell when the incident happened.

Authorities believe she was alive at 2 a.m., and was deceased some time before 3 a.m.

Taylor said Grissom was staying with Chavis and her grandparents. When he came home without her, the grandparents and Grissom went to police. Authorities said the suspect went with the grandmother to file the missing persons report.

Family members say the victim and Grissom were close and grew up together in New York.

Taylor says if Grissom does not waive extradition, it will be a month before he is brought and if he waives extradition, he'll be back within a week.

On Sunday, the Sheriff's office issued a warrant for Grissom's arrest. He had fled to Platkill, NY and was arrested there. Deputies will be going to NY to pick him up Tuesday.

Russell County Deputy Coroner Billy Dixon said the Russell County Sheriff's Office received a call around 7 p.m. Saturday after someone traveling down a dirt road saw her badly decomposed body lying off to the side in a wooded area in the Lato community off of Ridge Road in Seale, Ala. 

Dixon then received a call at 8:13 p.m. and went to the scene where he identified the victim as Chavis. Dixon explained Chavis' body was badly decomposed due to the hot weather this week.

Authorities said Chavis was last seen on Aug. 7 riding with Grissom in a silver 84' Honda Civic that night. Grissom told police and family that she was alive and well, and he dropped her off in the area of 800 block of 6th Street in south Phenix City, Ala. Police believe he killed her and left her on the side of the road.

The deputy coroner told News Leader 9 Chavis had a job interview on Aug. 8 in Columbus. The Russell County Sheriff's Department did not confirm this.

The victim's great uncle Darrell Grissom says Keonta was trying to join the Air Force.

 "We would never think this would happen to us," Darrell said.  

Darrell cautions parents who have children with cell phones to know their password and be able to access their GPS.

Dixon said there is a possibility that Chavis might have been murdered elsewhere and her body could have been dumped in a wooded area in Seale, Ala. The Russell County Sheriff's Department did not confirm this.

Chavis' body was taken to Montgomery for an autopsy Monday morning. Investigators said the cause of death is strangulation, and the body is still in Montgomery at autopsy.

Russell County Sheriff Department is also looking into the case to find suspects and other information on Chavis' death.

News Leader 9 will continue following this story as more details are available.

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