LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The case of a Long Beach man who was found dead in a garbage can in his back yard on Oct. 22, has taken another bizarre twist. Christy Lee Zarrella, 63, is accused of cutting a pacemaker out of Edward A. Miller's body.
Authorities said Zarrella was a friend of Miller, 87, and was living with him in his house. She was initially charged with tampering with evidence and failure to report a death.
Now, Zarrella is also charged with desecration of a corpse. Investigators filed that charge on Monday. Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell said Miller had a pacemaker, but one was not found in his body.
"We have not found the device," said McDowell. "We don't expect additional charges, but it is still under investigation."
The cause of Miller's death remains a mystery.
One of Miller's neighbors said she hadn't seen him for a couple of weeks when she noticed something suspicious. That's when she filed a missing person report with police.
Police were conducting a follow-up investigation outside of Miller's Seal Avenue home when they noticed a foul smell coming from the back yard. That's when investigators obtained a search warrant for the property where they made the gruesome discovery.
Officials report Miller had been dead for several weeks.
Zarrella had her preliminary hearing on all three charges Wednesday. She remains behind bars at the Harrison County Adult Detention Center on a $500,500 bond. Harrison County prosecuting attorney Herman Cox said Zarrella could spend up to five years in prison if she is convicted of tampering with evidence and desecration of a corpse, both of which are felonies.
Click here to view a timeline of the investigation.