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Judge asked to keep murder charge in Wilmington

WILMINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors in Wilmington are asking a judge to allow them to move forward on a murder charge against a 51-year-old man, even though the body of the victim hasn’t been found.

A preliminary hearing for James Bradley began Thursday and is expected to continue Friday. He is charged with murder in the death of 53-year-old Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk.

Police arrested Bradley after finding a body they thought was Vannewkirk last month. But an autopsy determined the remains were 34-year-old Elisha Tucker, who has been missing since August.

Investigators say Bradley is a suspect in Tucker’s death, but have not charged him.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David told a judge that circumstantial evidence is strong against Bradley and he shouldn’t be rewarded for being good at hiding a body.

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