A movie-of-the-week-worthy case of a woman whose dismembered body was found buried in the side yard of her home that initially had been ruled a homicide has now been deemed a death by natural causes — and squatters in her home found her already dead in a chair.
82-year-old Lucille Payne's remains were recovered on April 15, after neighbors alerted police to strange activity at Payne's home. Her body was found dismembered in a shallow grave, and some unknown number of people were found residing in the home. They were deemed intruders, and they had reportedly been living there for some time and were selling off Payne's possessions.
Payne, who lived alone, had no close relatives, and clearly kept to herself, had set her bills to autopay, as Bay Area News Group reports via local station KLAS. And investigators now believe she may have died of natural causes during the summer of 2018.
The intruders discovered her likely very decomposed remains early this year, so two and a half years later, and decided to bury her in the yard, investigators say.
As seen in the Google Street View image below, from March 2019, the home had some crispy brown plants outside, and a large shrub had already overtaken an edge of the driveway, blocking part of the garage door.
Longtime neighbors on the street told KLAS that they had never met Ms. Payne.
The exact cause of death likely won't be determined — and this latest revelation comes three months after the county coroner mistakenly ruled the death a homicide by blunt-force trauma and stabbing.
The case certainly has the makings of a script about ne'er-do-well thieves who make a fateful decision to occupy a house as long as they can, but lord knows that life inside that house after the burial of the body probably wasn't pretty or worthy of recounting.
Las Vegas police have not said how many suspects were involved, and nor have they been publicly identified. All they've said is that the suspects will now face charges of selling stolen property and improper burial of a body.