Maryland law enforcement officials said they believe they have recovered the body of a woman who reportedly disappeared Saturday evening after going to take a walk on a nature trail in Bel Air.
During a press conference on Sunday evening, Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said the body of a woman had been found off the Ma and Pa Trail in Bel Air just after 1 p.m.
The sheriff said 37-year-old Rachel Morin’s boyfriend reported to police at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night that she headed out from her home at about 6 p.m. to go for a walk on the Ma and Pa Trail.
When she did not return as expected, Morin’s boyfriend reported his girlfriend missing, telling police her car was at the trailhead in Bel Air, but she was not.
When deputies searched the area, they were able to locate the vehicle at the Williams Street entrance to the trail. The vehicle has since been taken to the criminal investigations’ division building to be processed.
At 1:07 p.m. on Sunday, a citizen called 911 to report they found the body of a woman off the trail, and Gahler said the investigation went from a missing person case to a homicide.
While Gahler said he believes the body is Morin, he would not say for certain until the medical examiner confirms the identity and cause of death, which has not happened.
“We have to let the process do what it’s supposed to do,” the sheriff said.
He went on to say he understands homicides cause a lot of concern in the community, especially at a trail like the Ma and Pa Trail, which is traditionally known as a safe space.
Within a 24-hour period, two women went missing: Morin and Karen Elliot, 58.
Elliott was last seen at her home in Bel Air at about 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, wearing a green shirt and blue jeans. She was also seen heading into the wooded area behind Cypress Drive in Bel Air.
On Sunday afternoon, a robo call went out to the surrounding community saying the second day of searching for Elliott had concluded, and that the sheriff’s office did not believe there was any danger to the community. Still, they asked anyone with information about Elliott’s whereabouts to call 410-612-1717.
Both cases, Gahler said, are unrelated.
The sheriff could not say whether a suspect had been arrested in the Morin investigation, or whether it was a targeted case.
But he said he hopes that will change in the coming hours.
Unlike the Elliott investigation, though, Gahler could not say if there was a threat to the community or not.
He warned community members who go out for a hike along the trails to change up their routine to make it less predictable and to be aware of their surroundings. The sheriff also suggested wearing a whistle or some sort of alert device to call for help, among other tips.
The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information about Rachel’s disappearance who may have seen anything to contact Detective Golden at 410-836-5430.
While it is still a highly active investigation, the sheriff’s office asked the community to refrain from posting any known details or guesses on its Facebook page, saying it could hinder the investigation or lead to false information.
“We want answers as much as you do,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook.