Thursday, August 23, 2012

Carthage, NC: Moore County man on probation for domestic violence charges accused of killing girlfriend

CARTHAGE - A Moore County man who was on probation for domestic violence charges is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend whose body was found Wednesday near the entrance to the county landfill, authorities said.

Michael Jason Berger, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Crystal Rae Smith, according to the Moore County Sheriff's Office.

The couple, who met about two months ago, lived at 726 Kennedy Circle in Aberdeen, Lt. Bill Mackey said today .

A concerned resident notified the Sheriff's Office on about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday after hearing that Smith had been killed, Mackey said.

Acting on that information, Mackey said, investigators went to the landfill on Turning Leaf Way off N.C. 5 and found Smith's body in a wooded area.

It's not known how Smith died nor how long her body was there, Mackey said.

"At this time, I can't tell you for sure. We don't have definite time, but we're suspecting possibly the first of the week," he said.

Smith's body was sent to the Medical Examiner's office to determine the cause and time of death, Mackey said.

Berger was arrested at the couple's residence about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, Mackey said.

Berger was put on two years' probation in early June on charges of assault by strangulation and misdemeanor assault on a female, according to the state Department of Correction records.

Those charges involved Berger's former girlfriend, Mackey said.

Berger spent a brief time in jail as a result of the earlier charges, Mackey said.

Berger met Smith in June, shortly after he was released, Mackey said.

"They hadn't been in a relationship long," Mackey said.

There was no record of any domestic-related calls at the Aberdeen residence, Mackey said.

Berger is being held without bail in the Moore County Detention Center.

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