A Florida man was arrested early Monday in connection to the murder of a missing 23-year-old mother after allegedly leading authorities to her body recovered from a canal.  

Eric William Westerguard, 45, of Jupiter, Florida, was charged with first degree murder-premeditated in connection to the death of 23-year-old Perrin Damron, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office announced. He is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail without bond.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Martin County Sheriff Williams Snyder said a friend of Damron came to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office in Stuart at around 10 p.m. Saturday to report her missing. The friend told deputies that the father of Damron’s nearly 2-year-old son picked the boy up at Damron’s house around 6 p.m. Friday in the Manatee Creek Community near Cove Road and Dixie Highway.

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“That friend who came here to the sheriff’s office became suspicious because, as she described it, Ms. Damron was extremely careful and a loving mother – and had not been in touch with the child since Friday,” Snyder said. 

The sheriff said authorities checked jails and hospitals, and detectives became involved Saturday evening. By Sunday morning, detectives throughout the course of their investigation learned that Damron was last seen with Westerguard, who Snyder described as Damron’s “family friend.” 

Eric William Westerguard, 45, of Jupiter, Florida, was arrested just before 1:30 a.m. Monday and charged with first degree murder-premeditated in connection to the death of 23-year old Perrin Damron.

Eric William Westerguard, 45, of Jupiter, Florida, was arrested just before 1:30 a.m. Monday and charged with first degree murder-premeditated in connection to the death of 23-year old Perrin Damron. (Martin County Sheriff’s Office )

Ring doorbell camera showed Westerguard had come to Damron’s house and she left with him “voluntarily,” Snyder said. 

Authorities said her vehicle was accounted for. The investigation then moved to Palm Beach County, as Westerguard lives in the Jupiter Farms area. The suspect made “incriminating statements” and “evidence was found at his house,” Snyder said. 

“Ultimately, the suspect led us to the overpass over the Okeechobee Waterway at 710 coming into Indiantown,” Snyder said. “Our detectives, along with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and our marine control assets recovered Ms. Damron’s body.”

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“This case obviously did not end like we wanted it to. We hoped from the beginning that we would find her,” the sheriff said. “I’m always profoundly saddened when a person loses their life through violence … A mother’s gone and that child will never know his mother.” 

No motive was announced, but Snyder said Westerguard is a family friend, mostly a friend of Damron’s mother. He could not disclose the official cause of death at this time, as the autopsy results are pending. 

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