Firefighters were called to the scene of an apartment that caught fire in Clarksville, Indiana on Tuesday morning when they discovered a 67-year-old woman’s decapitated body inside the burning home.
Clarksville police responded to the scene and immediately started reviewing surveillance footage and canvassing the area, leading them to 36-year-old Brian Williams, who they arrested less than eight hours later on murder and arson charges.
Surveillance footage showed Williams leaving Melody Gambetty’s apartment with suitcases on Monday afternoon, Maj. Joel DeMoss said at a press conference Wednesday, adding that it appears to be a botched robbery.
When police tracked Williams to his home, they discovered those suitcases with dismembered body parts inside.
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A probable cause affidavit obtained by Fox-affiliate WDRB said that “located inside one of the victim’s suitcases was a human cranium, with full facial tissue to include hair attached, believed to belong to the victim (deceased).” A small handsaw with blood on the blade was also in the suitcase, as well as a “plastic container with a lid, containing multiple human digits (fingers and toes),” according to the affidavit.
“Yesterday’s crime scene, in my 23 years, is one of the most horrific that we’ve been involved in,” Maj. DeMoss said Wednesday.
Gambetty also suffered stab wounds, DeMoss said, but an official cause of death will not be known until an autopsy is performed on Thursday morning.
Williams’ defense attorney lobbied in court for him to be released from jail under supervision, but the judge ordered him to be held in the Clark County Jail without bond, WDRB reported. His next court date is Sept. 1.
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The homicide occurred in Clarksville, Indiana, a town of about 20,000 people across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky.
“Clarksville is a small community. We’re very close here,” Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said Wednesday. “So when you have such a heinous crime such as this… it sends a shock wave throughout the community.”