LAS VEGAS — In a bizarre case, police in Las Vegas believe the body of a woman who unceremoniously died in 2018 remained in her home for more than two years until squatters found it. Apparently, upon discovering a free place to live, they dismembered the corpse and buried it in her backyard, according to reports.
The remains of Lucille Payne were discovered buried in a shallow grave behind behind the Las Vegas home she purchased in 1999, KLAS-TV reported.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) responded to a tip in April. Initially, police believed Payne had been murdered after neighbors told detectives they heard digging behind the house.
“She was not buried very deeply, and an officer started to move the dirt and found her arm inside a very shallow grave in the backyard,” Lt. Ray Spencer of the homicide unit said.
The coroner initially ruled Payne’s death a homicide after finding evidence of blunt force trauma and sharp force injuries, NBC News reported.
However, upon further investigation, evidence later revealed she had been dead for several years. As a result, her cause of death has since been changed to undetermined, according to KLAS-TV.
Detectives believe Payne died in the home in the summer of 2018. Since she lived alone and had no close relatives, her body sat in a chair until squatters discovered it sometime earlier this year.
The squatters then decided to cut up her corpse and bury it in the yard.
“After finding her, the decision was made between several people that they were going to dismember her body and bury her and then basically drain her finances and sell off her belongings, fraudulently,” Spencer told the local news outlet.
A woman found buried in her backyard in April was the victim of squatters who dismembered her corpse when they moved in. (Image via KLAS-TV)
Neighbors said the home appeared empty for years, KLAS-TV reported.
LVMPD said suspects could face fraud or theft-related charges for selling Payne’s car and improper burial for leaving her body in a shallow grave.
Police reportedly have suspect information, but thus far it has not been released.