The discovery of human remains in northwestern Stokes County is rekindling interest in the case of a woman who went missing from Surry County in 2018.
Various media accounts in the area say that the remains were found Tuesday in the yard of a vacant home in the 1700 block of Asbury Road in the Westfield community.
This occurred after the execution of a search warrant for the house and surrounding property initiated by the State Bureau of Investigation and Stokes County Sheriff’s Office.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office also is investigating the case, which has included the remains being taken to a medical facility for positive identification.
Maj. Scott Hudson of the Surry department would not comment Thursday on any possible link between the discovery of the remains and Sarah Ashley Hill, who disappeared in the same general area in June 2018.
“I can’t say,” Hudson said of that aspect, also declining to comment on any belief among authorities that the discovery could represent a breakthrough along those lines.
The Surry Sheriff’s Office spokesman additionally refused to say if authorities are working based on this theory, while promising that more details would emerge in addition to those already made public.
“I do know there will be a press release coming out,” Hudson said.
Authorities in Patrick County, Virginia, also have been heavily involved in the investigation from the onset due to the missing woman having an address there, and Patrick Sheriff Dan Smith provided a hint Thursday of that announcement will contain.
“This is a sad outcome, our prayers are with Sara’s (Sarah’s) family, and my office stands ready to assist North Carolina authorities in any way we can,” Smith stated.
Family declines comment
An attempt to reach a sister of the missing woman, April Hill Cain, for any comment she or other family members might have in light of Tuesday’s discovery led to this email from her Thursday:
“We the family do not have any comments at present,” Cain wrote. “Please allow us privacy at this time.”
Hill, 33, who in addition to maintaining an address in Patrick County also was known to stay with friends in North Carolina, has not been heard from since June 6, 2018.
Early that morning, Hill used her cell phone to call her older sister, a registered nurse at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, saying she was on Blue Hollow Road near Mount Airy and needed a ride.
The sister, Cain, could not respond right away due to being needed at the hospital, and was unable to reach Sarah Hill after her shift ended and she has not been heard from since.
Hill’s disappearance sparked a poster-distribution campaign with her photograph and details of the case widely disseminated in an effort to solicit information from the general public as to her whereabouts.
The missing woman’s sibling has said in trying to retrace her last steps that one place Sarah Ashley Hill was possibly believed to be was a location in nearby Stokes County where the latter had been “hanging out with a guy.”
This person of interest acted suspiciously, including refusing access to his home, according to Cain, who added that she had heard that individual previously was charged with rape.
Social media postings this week, apparently by residents of the area, indicated that the property in question was searched in 2018 in connection with Hill’s disappearance, and the man who lived there was a registered sex offender.
In January 2019, it was reported that law enforcement officers from multiple agencies had conducted a day-long search centered on three different sites on King Park Circle just outside Mount Airy. This is just off Blue Hollow Road, where Cain’s last contact with Hill originated.
The Surry Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on July 22, 2020 that it, in conjunction with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office, again had converged on King Park Circle regarding a follow-up investigation on the missing person.
Yet nothing transpired from that.