The body of an Alabama 17-year-old was found this afternoon off the side of a road near the spot where his Jeep had been previously found, a member of the search party confirmed to ABC News.
Ben Stanford, the grandson of Alabama State Sen. Jim Preuitt of Talledega, had been missing since Monday, Nov. 5, when he was last seen in Anniston, Ala.
Talledega County District Attorney Steve Giddens, the lead in a multi-agency investigation that included the FBI, the Alabama Bureau of Criminal Investigation and sheriff's offices and police departments in both Alabama and Georgia, said that Stanford's credit card was used the morning of Nov. 5 to purchase gas at an Alabama Texaco station.
His Jeep was discovered abandoned the same day along Interstate 20 in Villa Rica, Ga. The keys were not in the vehicle and the car's passenger side door had been left open.
Stanford's body was found by one of the groups assisting in a ground search about three-quarters of a mile from the where his Jeep Cherokee had been discovered, Sylvia Bentley, a real estate colleague of one of Stanford's parents and one of the organizers of the search, told ABC News.
"We were breaking for lunch before we went to the other side of the Interstate," Bentley said. "One of the groups had not come out to meet us. The reason why was because they found Ben."
Bentley, whose son went to school with Ben Stanford, said that an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of Stanford's death. She could not say whether there were any obvious signs of foul play.
"I think that's what the investigation is for," Bentley said.
More than 150 people arrived to help with the ground search Tuesday; the national search group Texas Equusearch also helped look for the missing 17-year-old, Bentley said.
A message left by ABC News for Giddens was not immediately returned.
A Web Site, www.benstanford.com, includes photos of the teen with friends in various settings, and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his safe return.
While the discovery of Stanford's body may provide the teen's family with some closure, Bentley said, the investigation now will focus on determining what happened to the young man.
"Now we've got to help the family through this and concentrate on who did it," Bentley said.