By Amy Clark Burns, Greenville News
Laurens County, SC -- Myranda Dale Southern was remembered by a longtime friend as "a really devoted mother, a really good friend, a family person."
"She had this most fantastic laugh. It filled up the whole room," said Meredith Tweed, a friend of Southern's since high school. "She was really gregarious. She was the sort of person who didn?t ever really know a stranger."
Tweed said Southern, a 31-year-old mother of two, was happiest when she was spending time with family and friends, whether at the zoo with her kids or at a restaurant with a laughing group. "She becomes so much a part of people's lives that she becomes a part of their family," Tweed said.
Southern's body was found in a Laurens County field a week ago but not identified until Thursday, and late Thursday night authorities arrested a Greenville man in her death. The man's name couldn't be immediately confirmed through warrants.
The arrest was made in Greenville County without incident, and the man was transported to the Laurens County Sheriff's Office, according to Lt. Judy Stiles, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.
Authorities believe that the two began communicating online before meeting in person about a week before Southern's disappearance, Stiles said.
Southern was first reported missing Aug. 19 and was last seen at work in Simpsonville.
She was due to travel to her hometown of Zellwood, Fla., the next day to get her children, who had been staying with her mother during part of the summer break, Tweed said.
Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols said Southern, whose last known address was in Taylors, died as a result of a gunshot wound to the neck, and he has ruled her death a homicide.
The case is being investigated by the Laurens County Sheriff's Office with cooperation from Greenville County Sheriff's Office and SLED, Stiles said.
Identifying Southern's body took several days and positive identification came Thursday with the help of forensics, including DNA testing, Nichols and Stiles said.
Tweed said plans for a memorial service for Southern are in the works.
A Facebook page titled "Friends of Myranda Southern" invites friends to share stories and also hopes to draw attention to other missing women.
"It's devastating. It's just unfathomable that such horrible violence can happen to someone you know," Tweed said. "She was such a great person."