Investigators have the scene taped off here in the Virginia City area of Latimer. (Photo source: WLOX)
One source tells us that freezer has been off for an extended period of time. (Photo source: WLOX)
LATIMER, MS (WLOX) -
How did a Latimer man's body end up inside an unplugged deep freezer at the home he was renting? Why is his car missing? And where is the other person who once lived with him?
Those are just some of the questions investigators are trying to answer after a gruesome discovery was made Monday morning at a house on Althea Street, north of McClellan Road. Michael Woods, owner of the property, made the grisly discovery when he checked on the house in the morning hours.
"I noticed a horrible smell. I opened the house up, opened the windows up. I went in the room where the freezer was at. I opened the freezer and there he was," said Woods.
According to Woods, the power in the house was still on, but the freezer had been unplugged for a long time. The scene won't likely leave his memory anytime soon.
"Man, it freaked me out. I haven't ever seen nothing like that before. It was horrible," said Woods.
Woods stopped by the house to give a potential renter a tour. He said the victim was his tenant, and has worked for him in the past, but hasn't shown up or answered his calls since his last rent was paid March 3.
Investigators obtained surveillance video from a nearby store that shows the victim on that very day. He was wearing the same clothes he was found in on Monday.
The sheriff's office is pursuing a person of interest - another person who lived inside the home. It's believed that man may have left the state in the victim's car, a 2001 gold Cadillac. Neighbors tell us he was headed to Chicago. The U.S. Marshals are currently looking for him.
"Depending on what the charge is, and how the person was killed, it could be a capital murder case," Sheriff Ezell said.
But until a suspect is in custody, neighbors will remain on edge.
"It's scary," resident Angela Keleher said. "I think the fact that it's being pointed more toward the roommate makes it easier because it's not like it's some random person out in the neighborhood. If that was case, I'd be really scared."
"We watch this stuff all the time on tv and now we're watching it in our front yard. It's crazy," said another resident.
As for Woods, it's going to take a while before he can move on from his horrific find.
"I shut the freezer down and got out of there and I haven't been back," he said.
Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus said an autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday. If you have any information that could help investigators, call the sheriff's department at (228) 769-3065 or Mississippi Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers at (877) 787-5898.