A dead woman in Las Vegas was dismembered and buried in her backyard by a group of squatters before they moved into her home and took over her finances, according to police.
In April of this year, police discovered the body of 82-year-old Lucille Payne buried in the backyard of her home located on Shore Breeze Drive, according to local news station KLAS-TV’s Investigative Team (I-Team).
Homicide investigators told the outlet that Payne lived alone and did not have any close relatives, so when she died in 2018, her body went undiscovered. The investigators said they believe that Payne’s body was initially discovered by a group of squatters, who took over her home after realizing that it appeared empty.
“After finding her, the decision was made between several people that they were going to dismember her body and bury her,” Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told KLAS-TV. “And then basically drain her finances and sell off her belongings, fraudulently.”
Payne’s neighbors said that her house appeared empty for years but police did not become suspicious of her home until they received a tip this April.
Finding Payne’s body did not take long as “She was not buried very deeply,” Spencer told the news station.
“An officer started to move the dirt and found her arm inside a very shallow grave in the backyard,” he said.
After her body was initially discovered in April, the Clark County coroner’s office announced in August that Payne’s death was ruled a homicide, dying by stab wounds and blunt force trauma. While speaking with KLAS-TV, Spencer said that while police previously believed that she Payne was murdered, new evidence uncovered that Payne died several years before her body was discovered in April.
“Next door neighbors were able to confirm for us that they had heard digging over the previous couple of weeks,” Spencer told the local news station. “There’s been so much work to do to make sure we uncovered every potential possibility that had occurred.”
According to KLAS-TV, the group of squatters sold a number of Payne’s belongings, including her car. The unidentified suspects currently face charges related to selling Payne’s items and improper burial, KLAS-TV reported.