Body found believed to be N.C. man who went missing after planned car sale

Andy Banks is originally from Gastonia, where his parents still live.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - Officials have found a body believed to be a North Carolina man who went missing for days after a planned car sale.

With the assistance of the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, officials recovered the body believed to be that of 39-year-old William “Andy” Banks, of Raleigh, who had been missing since Saturday.

Officials say the body will be sent to the coroner in Roanoke, VA, for autopsy and positive identification.

On Wednesday, authorities revealed foul play is suspected and the incident is being investigated as a homicide based on investigative findings. No charges have been filed at this time.

Earlier this week, a suspect was arrested in the theft of a car police say belonged to Banks.

The News & Observer reported that detectives arrested 34-year-old Justin Fernando Merritt in Danville, Virginia. Merritt was charged with robbery, larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Banks grew up in Gastonia and his parents still live there. His family was praying Andy would come home safely.

“We ask the people pray to Andy when they’re praying that God and the Holy Spirit be with him and keep him until we find him," said Andy’s mom.

Although he has lived in the Raleigh area for many years, his fellow classmates in Gastonia still remember him as a friend to all and friendly classmate. They hope he returns home soon.

“He was a good friend to a lot of people never had an enemy. This has been a really tragic situation for the community. his family and himself are well known in the community," said a classmate of Andy’s Melissa McLean. "Our hearts go out to him, we’re praying every day and hoping for the best outcome.”

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.