A man has been arrested and charged with the murder of a young mother found dead in the woods of Fayette County Sunday morning.

As the Thread reported earlier, 21-year-old Laci Whitson went missing after she allegedly left a rehabilitation facility in Lauderdale County with a known acquaintance named Michael Wade Tucker before dawn on Wednesday.

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No one heard from Whitson and loved ones began to fear for her safety - then on Sunday morning, Whitson's body was found wrapped in a blanket in Fayette County, where she lived before going to Florence, Alabama.

On Monday around noon, Tucker was booked in the Fayette County Jail and charged with murder.

He is 36, and state court records list him as a resident of Marion County. The Fayette County Sheriff's Office issued a statement about the arrest Tuesday morning.

"Tucker was the last known person to be with 21-year-old Laci Whitson," they wrote. The sheriff's office, Alabama State Bureau of Investigations and the 24th Circuit District Attorney's Office processed the scene and collected multiple items of evidence. It was through quick work by our deputies, investigators, district attorney Andy Hamlin and ALEA-SBI that we were able to safely and effectively secure the scene, locate a body, process the scene and have Michael Tucker in custody and charged with murder within 24 hours of the initial report."

Their press release did not elaborate on the details of the case but said their investigation into Whitson's death is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is urged to call the sheriff's office at 205-932-3205.

"This is a tragedy for our community, and we have families that are hurting," Sheriff Byron Yerby said in their statement. "We ask that you keep these families in your prayers. We sent our heartfelt condolences to the family of Laci Whitson."

Hamlin, who will prosecute the case, echoed those sentiments.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mrs. Whitson," he said. "My office will not rest until justice is served for her and her family."

 For updates on this case as they become available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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