A 63-year-old grandmother was found guilty of murdering her husband, chopping up his corpse and carrying pieces of his body from house to house for six years.
Loretta Burroughs had pretended her husband had run off with a younger woman to Florida when she decided to move for a fourth time. Before she could change locations, however, police arrived at her New Jersey home with a search warrant in 2013.
Though they were initially investigating Burroughs for fraud in relation to the disappearance of her husband, authorities discovered something shocking.
“She asked if we were also searching [her] house,” Sgt. Lynn Dougherty said. When officers replied that they were, Borroughs’ demeanor “changed completely. Her whole body sunk. She lost color in her face, she was wringing her hands, very nervous.”
In the guest bedroom closet of Burroughs' home, Detective Caroline MacDonald found two large boxes wrapped in multiple plastic garbage bags. When she smelled the distinct odor of decomposition, MacDonald called the medical examiner and had the boxes transported to the morgue.
Dr. Charles F. Siebert Jr., a forensic pathologist, found nine layers of plastic bags as well as dryer sheets, air fresheners and scented beads used to mask the smell of death inside the boxes. Decomposition fluid, a cranium and a mandible were also found alongside other bones like the left upper arm and lower legs.
Because of cut marks on the ribs that appeared to be stab wounds, Siebert determined the cause of death was homicide. Dr. Stuart Alexander, a New Jersey dentist, determined that the remains belonged to Daniel Burroughs, Loretta’s deceased husband.
Authorities soon discovered that the crime had begun in June 2007 when Burroughs asked a lawyer to draft a power of attorney. She claimed that she and her husband were selling their home, but that her husband was going out of town and she wanted to complete the sale. That same month, she had the document notarized and forged her husband's signature.
Loretta used the forged document to sell her home after Daniel’s death and made a profit of $77,101. However, the money was locked up in escrow and Daniel was entitled to half. In order to cash in, Loretta filed for divorce 18 months after killing her husband. When she finally managed to file divorce papers, she received the money and sold Daniel’s possessions, earning about $100,000 in total.
Loretta was arrested in May 2013. On Tuesday, Loretta was found guilty of first degree murder and could face life in prison.