Worth County investigation closes as body of deceased Grant City woman is located

Melissa Chapman

The Worth County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announces a missing person investigation has come to a close.

Prosecuting Attorney Janet Wake Larison reports that the Worth County Sheriff’s Office received a tip of the location of the deceased, Melissa Lynn Chapman, the evening of Monday, September 14th. An ongoing homicide investigation continues.

Law enforcement assisting includes that from Ringgold County, Iowa, Gentry County, Harrison County, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control.

A subpoena was served upon Chapman in July in a case in Harrison County regarding 39-year-old Jeremiah Searles. Searles was charged in that case with the felonies of kidnapping—facilitating a felony—inflicting injury—terrorizing—first degree, domestic assault—first degree, and abuse or neglect of a child—no sexual contact. Ten percent of his $10,000 bond was posted in June.

Searles’s bond was revoked in August, and a warrant was issued and served. Bond was set at $100,000 cash only. A criminal motion hearing is scheduled for September 24th. A jury trial is scheduled for November 6th.

A probable cause affidavit from Bethany Police Chief Bryan Holloway accuses Searles of shoving Chapman multiple times in March, grabbing her by the throat, and slapping her. He reportedly threw her son and held him on the floor after the boy attempted to get Searles to stop hitting the woman.

The affidavit notes the woman had visible bruising on her neck, arms, and bridge of her nose. The boy was described as having a scratch on his forehead and an abrasion on his left side.

Searles has also been charged in Worth County with the felonies of operated a motor vehicle on a highway without a valid license—third and subsequent offense and fail to register as a sex offender. A preliminary hearing on that case is set for October 5th.