GREENE COUNTY, Ga. — A search for a missing Greene County couple has ended after two bodies were found in a burned pickup truck on a property in a neighboring county.
Taliaferro County Sheriff Marc Richards told Channel 2's Christian Jennings that it appears they are dealing with a murder-suicide.
Deputies had called off the effort to locate Steven Rhodes and his wife Melissa Meeks Rhodes, who were first reported missing on New Year’s Eve.
Greene County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the woman’s daughter called authorities out of concern for her mother after she could not get in touch with her.
"When she arrived home she observed some things that raised her suspicions about something being not quite right," Harrison said. "We do know something took place that rose some red flags for the family and for us."
The couple had no children together but Melissa Rhodes leaves behind three daughters from a previous marriage. Steven Rhodes has a son and a daughter.
The couple were last seen around 11 p.m. Monday and were believed to be traveling in Steven Rhodes’ black modified Ford pickup.
Deputies used their own trucks and enlisted the help of several community volunteers to look for the couple.
Around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies got a call that a truck matching the description of Rhodes’ was spotted on a property across the Taliaferro County line.
According Richards, the truck was found on private property.
"We had to go onto a private tract of property and we observed a gate was smashed in and we observed tracks going in to the property," Richards said.
The truck was discovered burned.
Authorities are waiting on an autopsy report from the GBI Crime Lab to make a positive identification and determine a cause of death.
Investigators said they found a shotgun and shell casings at the scene.
"It appears to me that he killed her, got outside the truck, lit the fire, got back in and killed himself," Richards said.
A system of storms in the area early Tuesday morning complicated the search.
"We were told Rhodes had a tendency to take back roads," Harrison told AJC.com. "With all the rain we've had, it didn't make it easy for patrol cars."
Once the rain passed, the sheriff called in the help of the Georgia State Patrol’s aviation unit.
The sheriff said he could not release any further information on the condition in which the bodies were found.
Deputies are still investigating two scenes related to the missing persons case: the Rhodes’ home in Greene County and the property in Taliaferro.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday afternoon that they have been called in to help with the investigation.
The couple's bodies are at the GBI lab for autopsy..
Chelsea Prince with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this story.
Cox Media Group