TerriLynn St. John, a Virginia mother of two small children, vanished from her own front yard, and now her loved ones’ worst fears have tragically materialized. TerriLynn’s body was found only about a mile from her house in a wooded patch, and police are treating the case as a homicide.
According to WTKR-TV, the scene in Wake, Virginia bore troubling signs of a potential struggle from the start. The television station reported that St. John, 23, “went to her car in her front yard, preparing to take her children to daycare.” She disappeared after that point early on February 27, 2018. The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department was searching for the young woman, who vanished around 7:30 a.m.
Identification of the body determined it was that of St. John, according to WTVR. “The body was found covered with leaves and brier bushes along Barricks Mill Road in Pine Top, Virginia,” the television station reported.
Alvin B. Keyser has been accused in connection with St. John’s disappearance. He’s 23 and described as an acquaintance of St. John. They were Facebook friends. “Alvin B. Keyser has been charged with First Degree Murder; Class 2 Felony and Concealment of a Dead Body; Class 6 Felony under Virginia State code,” the Sheriff’s Department revealed.
TerriLynn’s children are ages 3 and 1. Terry St. John, her father, told The Southside Sentinel newspaper, “Never, never, never” would she have left the children on their own. Middlesex Sheriff’s Major Michael Sampson said on February 28: “This is a missing person, under suspicious circumstances.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. TerriLynn Vanished With the Door Open & Her Children Inside the House
Sampson, the major with the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department, said in a press conference that detectives had worked into the early morning hours. “Mr. Keyser showed us where it was at,” Sampson said when asked how the body was found. According to The Washington Post, Keyser “admitted that he got into an argument with her Tuesday morning outside her house as she was getting her children ready for day care. Keyser hit St. John and strangled her, then put her body into his van and discarded it in woods nearby.”
The Post added of the allegations: “Keyser told detectives that he confronted St. John at her house on Tuesday about something she had said about him. Keyser claimed that St. John hit him, so he hit her back and then pushed her out of the van he was driving,” according to police.
At about 9 a.m. March 1, the detectives discovered the body in the Wake area of Middlesex County, Sampson said. At 9:30 a.m., Alvin B. Keyser was taken into custody. “He was initially contacted last night,” Sampson said. “He’s being interviewed several more times and awaiting more charges.”
At 11:35 a.m., the body was identified as TerriLynn St. John. “There was an attempt to cover up the body.” The body was found 20 feet off the road in a small patch of woods. Detectives have switched gears and are now considering the case a homicide, Sampson said.
“The sheriff’s office would like to offer condolences to the friends and family of Miss St. John,” said Sampson. “We do know that Mr. Keyser was an acquaintance. To what degree we don’t know,” he added.
On Facebook, Keyser wrote that he lives in Middlesex, Virginia and is from Middlesex, Virginia. He was Facebook friends with TerriLynn St. John. Court records say he is from Topping, Virginia.
According to the missing poster circulated in her case, TerriLynn St. John was last seen on February 27, 2018 in the morning hours. She had recently moved to Wake, Virginia.
“Her door was found open and her small children were found alone inside her home,” the missing poster reports. People with any information were urged to contact the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department at 804-758-2779 or by dialing 911. The missing person’s report says that Terrilynn was 23-years-old, 5 foot 6 inches tall, 130 pounds, and had blonde hair and blue eyes.
According to a press release from the Sheriff’s Department early on in the case, “In the late morning hours of Feb. 27 2018 Middlesex deputies responded to 15 Mill Wharf Rd. in the Wake are of Middlesex County. This is the residence of Ms. Terrilynn St. John 23 YOA. The call was in reference to possible missing persons.”
The release also said that the “initial call was made by the paternal Grandfather who stated that the mother of two infant children; ages 1 and 3, did not show up for work today and that the children were in the house alone. Deputies arrived on scene at approximately 1100 hours and shortly thereafter called Detectives to the scene. The 2 children discovered in the home are safe with no reported injuries and with the Paternal Grandfather.”
TerriLynn’s dad told the newspaper he was afraid it was a random abduction. Her boyfriend, Mac Kennard, told the Southside Sentinel that he “had kissed her goodbye at 4:20 a.m. and headed to work oystering.” The newspaper reported that he “could not hold back tears,” quoting him as saying, “She’s my best friend.”
“I’d love to go out and look for her, but where do you start,” TerriLynn’s father told the Southside Sentinel before his daughter’s body was found.
An intense exchange occurred between the boyfriend and another man on his Facebook page. “Where the f*ck is she,” the man asked. Kennard responded, “Y the f*ck r u asking me.” The man responded, “Cuz your the last person with her….” to which Kennard replied, “Yea ur all the way in South Florida so u don’t no what the f*ck ur talking about.” Kennard’s Facebook page is filled with photos of him with St. John. In August 2017, TerriLynn indicated on Facebook that the couple had been together for three months. “You have made this the best three months I’ve seen in a long time ! I love you babe ! Your the best ! Here’s to many more to come !!” she wrote.
2. TerriLynn’s Broken Necklace Was Found in Her Yard & Social Media Led Police to Keyser
There were some aspects of the scene that concerned loved ones of TerriLynn. According to the missing poster in her case, a broken necklace was found in the front yard.
There were other disturbing details. Her cell phone was found in the bushes in her yard, according to the missing person’s poster. In addition, the young woman’s car was still at her home. A shoe or slipper was also recovered, according to The Southside Sentinel. Police allege that Keyser says some of the items belonged to him, according to The Washington Post.
Police confirmed the account of the broken necklace. TerriLynn was described as having “multiple tattoos including R.J.M. on her right wrist, a princess crown on her left wrist, and a cross on her ring finger,” according to WTVR.
According to WKTR-TV, authorities had identified “persons of interest” in the case. They were not named. On February 28, Sampson provided more details, saying authorities had talked to four persons of interest and received DNA samples from them. “A person of interest could be acquaintances, whether they be personal acquaintances — friends, family,” he said, according to WTVR-TV.
However, by March 1, authorities were only naming Alvin Keyser as a suspect. Sampson said that police were lead to Keyser by social media and statements that someone said Keyser allegedly made, although they did not specify more details. Authorities called social media a “double-edged sword” in the case but instrumental in Keyser’s arrest.
3. TerriLynn Recently Posted Many Sayings About Relationship Heartache & Worked at a Local Horse Farm
On February 25, in her last publicly visible Facebook posts, TerriLynn shared a series of graphics that described relationship angst and turmoil. “Sometimes you just have to accept what happened, smile and move on,” was the last post that St. John shared publicly on Facebook. It’s dated February 25. It’s not clear what she was referring to in the post, which was a share of a graphic with that saying. St. John worked at a local horse farm.
On Facebook, she wrote that she was single. She also shared a graphic on February 25 that read, “Sometimes the best thing you can do is fall out of love.” Her photos showed her with Kennard and young children as well as friends.
“Don’t let anyone take advantage of your trust,” said yet another graphic that TerriLynn shared on that day. “Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak, but too many chances can do some harm.”
The graphic in another post she shared read, “If you’ve gotta do it by yourself, be by yourself, period.” She also shared a status recently with the lyrics from a Tove Lo song:
We started out as lonely hearts
We started with a promise built on highs
You said I was the missing part
Looked into my eyes said
“You’re my fix for life”
But now, what I’m doing
I don’t know, what I’m doing
Cause I don’t even feel it
Bodies growing colder with the distance now
And I don’t even mean it
Got my hands all over you, but not a sound
I’m always so in love, all in
Till you lost your goal, and I’m thinking
Thought you’d make me feel it
Thought that I’d be different this time around
This time around
It’s not clear what was driving the lengthy string of posts. She appears to have had multiple Facebook pages. TerriLynn wrote on a photo collage of pictures with Kennard in December 2017, “Mac Kennard life has changed a lot with you in it ! I love you! Your the best !” In December, she also wrote, “I always thought of this guy as a good friend and I had the biggest crush on him!! I remember riding bikes around water view when we were like 14 I’m glad he finally came to his senses I love you Mac Kennard forever and ever amen !”
By February 17, 2018, though, she was writing, “I just want to be alone … who makes me happy ? I make me happy !” On Valentine’s Day, she wrote, “You don’t get second chances after disrespecting me and mine like that …” to which a loved one commented, “Definitely DANM I WANT A BASEBALL BAT.” It’s not clear what or about whom they were referring to, however.
One friend wrote on Facebook, “Okay, so her and mac had their ups and downs. He has been cleared! At the time the events took place he was at work. This is a random act.”
4. Loved Ones Turned to Social Media Seeking Information
Frantic loved ones of TerriLynn shared her photos on social media as they asked for help looking for her until the tragic news came in that she had been found. “She’s like my baby sister, I want her home safe,” wrote one woman on Facebook. She also provided some details on the case, such as, “Her car is at home the last time someone talked to her was this morning.”
“OMG I’ve known this girl forever everyone please pray?” wrote another. Another friend shared a series of photos and wrote, “I love you baby girl. Wherever you are, we will find you… I promise, We wont stop. We are going to bring you home.. just pls hold on until we find you…”
Wrote another man, “Bc the baby’s were left and the door was left open her broke necklace was in the yard with her earrings,shoes,and phone found in the bushes is what I’ve been told! Something is not right and someone needs to find my sister!!!!!!!”
5. A Massive Search Was Launched
Law enforcement launched a massive search to find St. John, according to local news reports. “…law enforcement officials are using dogs and drones in the search for 23-year-old,” reported WTVR-TV.
Authorities wrote on Facebook, “Terri Lyn St. John is a 23 year old female who is living in Wake, Va in Middlesex County. She was last seen at her residence early this morning. Anyone with information should contact Middlesex County SO at 804 758 2779.”
The Sheriff’s Department also wrote, “A call was made to the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office who immediately deployed a K-9 unit to the scene to assist in the search for St. John. An aerial search of the area was also conducted by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. Deputies searched the area on foot covering numerous miles of terrain around the residence. Local beaches and boat landing were also checked throughout the day on foot by Sheriffs deputies.
Evidence was collected at the scene and immediately packaged for analysis at the state lab in Richmond. Detectives worked into the early morning hours Interviewing and questioning persons of interest in the case. Detectives are asking if anyone living in the area saw anything suspicious or suspicious vehicles between the hours of 4:30 A.M. and 6:00A.M. Please contact the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Hotline at (804) 758-5600.”
TerriLynn’s father told WTVR, “They looked through the woods and you could definitely tell there has been a struggle beside my daughter’s car. Jewelry was all around, like it had been broken off, her cell phone was found in the bushes.” According to the television station, “TerriLynn was last seen wearing a blue Outer Banks hoodie.” Kennard’s cover photo on Facebook shows TerriLynn wearing the hoodie pictured above.