Suspect arrested wearing only underwear linked to missing Virginia woman

Suspect arrested wearing only underwear in arson case linked to missing Virginia woman
Juan Benavidez (Source: Northern Neck Regional Jail)
Juan Benavidez (Source: Northern Neck Regional Jail)

PAMPLIN, VA (WWBT) - Westmoreland County Sheriff's investigators say the man accused of setting a missing Appomattox County teen's car on fire Thursday was found in the woods wearing only his underwear.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Juan Benavidez, 19, of King George, around 1 a.m. Friday when they received a call from a concerned citizen saying he was spotted near a home in the woods.

Virginia State Police said the vehicle arson is believed to be connected to the disappearance of Megan Lorraine Metzger, 19, of Pamplin.

The vehicle is registered to Metzger.

State Police said Metzger's disappearance is being investigated as an abduction.

Metzger went missing Tuesday, however authorities are still investigating where she was last seen.

She is a white female, height 5' 05", weight 150 lbs, with blue eyes, and blonde hair. She has a 5-inch scar on her right arm.

Police said she may need medical attention.

Metzger has moved around several times in the last year, according to police. She's lived with various friends and acquaintances, however Pamplin, VA has been her most consistent residence.

Attempts at speaking with Metzger's mother at a home believed to belong to her were unsuccessful.

Around 11 a.m. Thursday King George County Sheriff's Office alerted the Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office to be on the lookout for a suspect vehicle heading to the county on Route 3.

The suspect vehicle, a white 2004 four-door Mazda, was located a short time later in the woods off Leedstown Road.

First responders reported seeing smoke in the area and the car on fire.

Scorch marks could be seen Friday where Benavidez allegedly ignited the car, nearly 100 yards from the road.

Investigators said Benavidez abandoned the car and took off into the woods.

Locals said the woods in the area are filled with brambles.

Benavidez's booking photo at Northern Neck Regional Jail shows several scratches on his face and neck from his time spent in the woods running from authorities.

Deputies said Benavidez was interviewed for several hours Friday morning. Details about his connection to Metzger were not released.

State Police said he and Metzger are acquaintances and have been seen together, but it is not known if he is a suspect in her abduction.

The car involved in the arson remains at the Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office until State Police come to pick it up.

Deputies said nothing of a significant nature was recovered from the car.

Anyone with information about Metzger's whereabouts is asked to call Virginia State Police at 1-804-553-3445.

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