According to the Sun-Sentinel, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is investigating a new homicide after a homeowner discovered a container filled with cement and body parts floating in the canal behind his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. So far no suspects have been publicly named and no arrests have been made.
(Photo Credit: Sun-Sentinel, Michael Francis McElroy, Sun Sentinel / November 9, 2010)
The man who made the gruesome discovery says he found the container floating behind his home last Friday. When he first discovered it, the homeowner tied the container to his dock with the intention of removing it from the water and discarding it later on.
When he took a look inside the container the next day, the homeowner saw a sneaker protruding from concrete and decided to call police.
At first, the presence of body parts in the container and concrete was not obvious, but in an abundance of caution, police investigators had the container inspected by the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office.
During this inspection, medical examiners chipped away at the concrete and discovered the presence of chopped up body parts. To preserve their ability to question potential suspects, police are not revealing which body parts were found, how they were cut, or the description of the container.
Police claim that the container may have been floating in the water since Friday morning or for as long as three days. Police also suspect that the victim may have been killed sometime between Halloween and last Thursday.
Investigators are said to be contacting other police departments to determine if there are any similarities to other homicides and to cross reference their information with missing person reports.
According to police, the victim was a white male, between 5’8″ and 6’0″, who wore size 10 sneakers and thick eye glasses.
This case is especially interesting, not for its brutality, but because a woman named Doris Lopez, age 48, was found rotting in a barrel, that was left in her own car, on October 26… a mere 5 days before this murder is suspected to have taken place. Her body was found in Delray Beach, which is very close to Fort Lauderdale.
Were these two people murdered by the same person or group of people? Does Doris Lopez have any connection to the man found in the container? Or is it just a coincidence that two bodies were found stuffed in containers in the same week?
There is no doubt in my mind that police investigators are combing through Lopez’s case to determine if there is any connection between her murder and the man found in the container. As has been discussed many times on this blog, such investigations always begin with forensic evidence obtained from crime scenes.
Is there any similarity between the barrel Lopez was found in and the container the man was found in? According to police, Lopez was found in a cardboard barrel. Since the Fort Lauderdale container was found floating in a canal, I think it is safe to say the two are different because cardboard would fall apart in water.
Moreover, there has been no mention of concrete in the Lopez barrel. However, this would be expected since the Lopez barrel was left in her car as opposed to being discarded in water.
Next, a comparison will need to be made in regards to how the two bodies were dismembered. I know this sounds gruesome, but there may be a pattern at play here. First, were the bodies dismembered in the same way? Second, is there evidence that the same or a similar type of cutting tool was used? Are police investigators able to connect these two murders by one singular knife or cutting tool used to dismember the bodies?
Since the Fort Lauderdale crime scene is really unknown and the container was found floating in water, which was most likely brackish water, odds are there any forensic evidence on the outside of the container, such as fingerprints or DNA, has been lost to the elements.
However, this may not be the case with the Lopez barrel.
Since the Lopez barrel was found inside a car, fingerprints, DNA, fiber evidence, and other clues may have been shielded by the elements. As such, police investigators may have been able to collect samples that were preserved enough to be tested. The same hold true for the other contents of Lopez’s vehicle.
Police investigators will surely have their eyes focused on any connections between the two crime scenes.
Next, police may obtain the GPS records and call logs from Lopez’s cellular phone to determine who she has been talking to, what text messages she has sent and received, as well as where her phone has been in the days and weeks leading up to her murder. This may provide police with clues that connect her murder to the Fort Lauderdale body.
At the end of the day, police investigators have their work cut out for them. This case clearly presents more questions than it does answers at the present time. However, cases like these are cracked by diligent investigators who are thorough and take the time to evaluate information from every available source.
I hope for the sake of this man and Doris Lopez that their killers are found and justice is served.