CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police say the body found under a bridge last week in Fort Mill was a young Charlotte mother who was pregnant with a second child.
Her boyfriend is now charged with her death and the death of the unborn child.
The victim was identified by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police as 23-year-old Natalie Merrick.
Merrick lived with her boyfriend, Mahmood Bhatti, who is now charged with two counts of murder.
They shared a townhome on Via Romano Drive in Charlotte, where they lived with an earlier child they had together.
The body of Merrick was found last Thursday on Dobys Bridge Road in Fort Mill.
There was no identification on the body but eventually, distinctive tattoos led to the identification.
The exact cause of death is still to be determined but CMPD Detective Captain Chris Dozier says police have a good idea. Merrick's death would mark Charlotte's 74th homicide of 2017.
"Right now the Medical Examiner in South Carolina has not determined that but she did have injuries consistent with strangulation," Dozier said.
Last August, Bhatti was charged with assault on a female.
Dozier would not say if that victim was Merrick but Dozier did encourage anyone who is a victim of domestic violence to seek help.
"If you are in that situation, we want to help you," Dozier said. "We want to be a part of the solution to help you get out of that situation."
The death of Merrick comes in the waning days of October which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Bhatti is expected to make his first court appearance Thursday.
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