Missing father and 6-year-old daughter found dead from suspected hypothermia

Jason Murph and his daughter, Michele, died from hypothermia after their vehicle got stuck in the mud. (Provided by Richland County Sheriff's Office)

A missing South Carolina father and his 6-year-old daughter were found dead, and officials believe hypothermia was the cause. 

According to the Richland County Sheriff's Department, Jason and Michelle Murph went missing on December 17 and were found the next day in Calhoun County. 

Investigators were searching for the pair when deputies found their truck on Lavendar Lane. 

They then found the bodies about 100 yards away. 

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According to a police report obtained by FOX Television Stations, Jason's wife told authorities he had been caring for their daughter two weeks prior to their disappearance. 

The wife said Jason and their daughter were heading to the library and then to see his mother after they had just eaten. Jason then phoned his wife to say that he had slid off the road and wrecked his vehicle in an unknown location.


Michelle Murph, 6. (Provided by Richland County Sheriff's Office)

The wife said Jason hung up on her and refused to pick up again. She said she could also hear their daughter yelling in the background. 

The wife said she texted Jason to call 911, but he did not respond. 

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According to FOX 19 Now, the county coroner said autopsy results "were inconclusive but the determination was made based on weather elements." The coroner did not suspect foul play and did not detect any supcisiou injuries. 

The coroner also told WLTX he believes the father was trying to free his vehicle after getting stuck in the mud, but a grass fire ignited from the friction. 

"In my opinion, the car actually started the grass fire probably about 10:30 p.m., but unfortunately, when the car fire was extinguished, I think that's when they became urgent to get out," Calhoun County Coroner Donnie Porth told the outlet. 

"I feel like they were walking together, and unfortunately, he being heavier than she is, he sank into the mud, and the more you struggle, the deeper you go," he continued. "I would ask everyone to keep family and friends and their prayers and thoughts."

This story was reported from Los Angeles.