Authorities in New York City have launched an investigation after a severed head and other body parts were found inside a fridge in Brooklyn.
Heather Stines, 45, has been charged with concealment of a corpse in connection with the disturbing discovery on Monday at her Flatbush apartment. Stines, who has a history of minor crimes, claimed it was her now-jailed husband who allegedly killed a man following a dispute over drugs and dismembered the body to store it in the fridge.
The victim whose body parts were found inside the fridge has been identified by law enforcement as 39-year-old registered sex offender Kawsheen Gelzer.
Stines’ brother-in-law Timothy McGee told the New York Daily News that he did not believe she had carried out the murder.
“She does not have it in her to do something like this. It’s a lot of commitment,” Mr McGee said.
Here’s what we know about the case:
NYPD tipped off about body parts in freezer
Law enforcement was alerted of the gruesome contents in Stines’ fridge after an anonymous caller contacted the New York City Police Department’s tipline.
Stines reportedly allowed officers inside the apartment, but when they tried to inspect a taped-up refrigerator, she became combative, according to NBC.
“The refrigerator was taped up,” said Joseph Kenny, NYPD chief of detectives, on Tuesday, according to The New York Post. “They were trying to hole up, I guess, the smell inside.”
The officers later found plastic bags that contained the body parts inside.
Homicide detectives were called to the scene and Stines was arrested after undergoing a psychiatric evaluation on Wednesday.
The chief medical examiner is working to determine the victim’s cause of death.
Stines moved to NYC from Kentucky with husband
The woman’s aunt, Amy Stines, told DailyMail.com that her niece had moved there from Kentucky and was living with her husband. Both had longstanding drug problems, the aunt said, and had been arrested several times.
“Oh god, I just can’t fathom this,” Ms Stines told the outlet.
The husband, Nicholas McGee, has been jailed in Virginia since September for allegedly trying to cash a fraudulent cheque.
At least twice, according to a neighbour, people had tried to break into the apartment searching for money she owed them for drugs.
McGee’s brother, Timothy McGee, told the Daily News that they had both moved to New York with their wives in 2014 and spent the first years in the city in shelters.
“We were at the Third St Men’s Shelter downtown. My wife was in [the] White Plains shelter, but Heather was put in [the] Tillary St Women’s Shelter because she used to fight with everyone at the other shelter,” Timothy McGee said. “He seemed fine [last time I spoke with him] and he told me that his wife was holding the fort. He does not know what’s happening here.”
Stines alleged husband killed Gelzer
Law enforcement said following the arrest, Stines claimed her husband killed Gelzer while the two men argued over drugs.
Stines claimed McGee then dismembered the body and stored it in plastic bags that he placed inside the freezer. McGee has not been charged with any crimes involving the incident at this time.
Dorothy Williams, a neighbour of Stines, told The New York Post that she had been in Stines’ apartment a couple of times – but Stines never let her near the kitchen area.
“She just told me that her caseworker was just here,” Ms Williams told the outlet. “But their caseworker, they don’t come in and look through everything. They just kind of stick their head in and say everything’s OK in here and then leave.”
Stines had been previously arrested on charges of petty crime.
Gelzer was registered as a sex offender and given five years of probation after he abused a 12-year-old boy in 2004, according to the New York City Sex Offender registry.