Woman’s body found in car on side of I-20 in Newton County, troopers say

Authorities investigating possible connection to missing person case

State authorities are investigating after a car was found wrecked in a wooded area along I-20 in Newton County and a woman’s body was discovered inside.

Georgia State Patrol troopers responded to the site Monday afternoon when GBI agents located the car, believed to be related to a missing person case, a spokesperson for the state patrol confirmed. According to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the vehicle has “some similarities” to the car belonging to Yolanda Brown.

Brown, 53, was reported missing after she left her Covington home the night of Sept. 2 and did not return. She was last seen on surveillance footage at the Irish Bred Pub in Hapeville, where her family says she was a regular.

In the days since, authorities have been unable to locate Brown or her 2020 black Chevrolet Impala, and calls to her cellphone have gone unanswered, her son Joshua Doughty said. Newton deputies began searching last week and eventually called in the assistance of the GBI, the state patrol and the state patrol’s helicopter unit.

Sgt. Jack Redlinger, a spokesperson for the Newton agency, said Tuesday the investigation is active and Brown is still considered missing. The GBI will perform an autopsy on the victim and process the wrecked vehicle, he said.

According to the state patrol, a female driver was found dead. The agency did not specify which missing person case the GBI was investigating.

Footage from NewsChopper2 showed a crumpled, dark-colored sedan partially obscured by a line of trees about 15 yards from the westbound shoulder, not far from Alcovy Road. A wrecker and several law enforcement vehicles could also be seen at the site for several hours after the vehicle was discovered about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Authorities have not confirmed if foul play is suspected in Brown’s disappearance, but her family fears the worst. Surveillance footage from the bar, obtained by Channel 2, showed her speaking with two men in the parking lot before getting into her car with one man and spending about two hours there.

That man then got into his own SUV and followed Brown’s Impala out of the parking lot, according to the news station. Doughty, Brown’s son who lives with her, filed a missing person report with Hapeville police one day later after he couldn’t get in touch with her.

Brown previously lived in Hapeville and drove there once or twice a month to visit the pub and meet with a former coworker, one of the men seen on the surveillance video, Doughty said.

The second man, who can be seen following her in the SUV, was described by her son as another regular at the bar. Doughty said Brown may have been acquainted with that man, who has not been named by authorities and has no known connection to her disappearance.

“She always wants to be someone’s friend, and I am 100% convinced that her friend-making is what led to her being missing right now,” her sister, Mickie Nutall, said at a news conference held by the family’s attorney last week.

Anyone with information related to Brown’s whereabouts is asked to call Investigator Simmons with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office at 678-625-1453.

— Staff writer Henri Hollis contributed to this article.