CHARLOTTE, NC (WSOCTV) – Authorities said a pregnant woman found dead in York County was killed by her boyfriend in Charlotte before being left on the side of a road.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested 28-year-old Mahmood Bhatti and charged him with the murder of Natalie Merrick and her unborn child.
Bhatti was arrested overnight following a joint investigation with the York County Sheriff’s Office.
Channel 9 learned that Merrick’s mother had reported her missing on Friday, the day after deputies in York County found a woman’s body on the side of Dobys Bridge Road in Fort Mill.
The coroner completed an autopsy of the woman and determined that she was pregnant when she was killed.
“At that point, detectives realized it was the same person,” said CMPD Capt. Chris Dozier.
During the investigation, detectives determined she was killed somewhere else and that her body was dumped on the side of the road.
On Oct. 20, CMPD responded to a missing persons call on Via Romano Drive in Charlotte — the last known address for Merrick, 23.
Detectives were then able to determine that the body found in Fort Mill was Merrick.
On Oct. 24, investigators determined that the crime took place in Charlotte and developed Bhatti as the suspect.
“I’ve seen the police over there several times before but I never knew what the situation was,” neighbor Barbara Richmond said.
Police said Bhatti and Merrick were in a long-term relationship and had a child together. Authorities have not said how Merrick was killed, but a preliminary investigation points to possible strangulation.
“He has not given a statement to police. He has requested an attorney,” Dozier said.
Detectives are also trying to determine a motive in the case.
Bhatti was taken into custody at midnight and was booked into the Mecklenburg County Jail.
“He looked like he’s the type of person that could do something like this,” Richmond said. “I don’t know, maybe it was jealousy or spite, but whatever it is, she didn’t deserve it.”
The investigation is ongoing.