A Williamsburg missing person case turned into a homicide investigation Monday after police found what they believe to be the victim’s remains inside her apartment, and arrested her boyfriend, John P. Meadows, for murder.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird, who is the investigating officer, said that Meadows, 58, is also facing charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Donna G. Lay, who was last seen on Jan. 7.
Meadows was arrested about 4 p.m. Monday and lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.
So far authorities don’t have a motive for the killing, a cause of death or a precise time of death.
Bird estimates that the victim had been dead for two to three weeks based upon accounts of when she was last seen.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday at the Kentucky
Medical Examiner’s Office. Bird said that a couple of officers would be attending the autopsy and hope to learn more information at that time.
Lay’s body was found sealed inside a large garbage can, which Bird described as the kind where people normally store their garbage when it is outdoors for sanitation workers to pick up.
Bird said that the garbage can was inside Lay’s apartment in a closet sealed with duct tape, then wrapped with black plastic and sealed with duct tape again apparently in an effort to disguise the smell of the body, which was in a bad state of decomposition.
Lay, 57, was reported missing on Jan. 27 by a neighbor, who hadn’t seen her in several weeks, Bird said.
Police began an investigation on that day and interviewed Meadows that day.
“His story didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Bird said.
Williamsburg Police were able to develop enough information over the weekend in order to obtain a search warrant Monday morning for Lay’s apartment, which is located at 124 South 10th Street apartment number 207.
At the same time police were executing the search warrant at Lay’s apartment Monday, several agencies assembled in order to conduct a ground search for Lay outside the apartment complex, including Williamsburg Fire & Rescue, Woodbine Fire and Rescue, Whitley County Emergency Management, and Kentucky Emergency Management officials.
The remains were discovered about an hour after police started searching Lay’s apartment.
“We believe that to be the body of Donna Lay, but we are still waiting on official confirmation,” Bird said.
Williamsburg Police K-9 Ryker, which is a trained cadaver dog, first alerted to the possible presence of human remains in the garbage can. Police then opened the garbage can, and found the remains inside. The can was closed, and K-9 Amos, which is also a trained cadaver dog, was brought in, and alerted to the presence of possible remains inside the garbage can as well, Bird said.
Lay’s remains were left inside the garbage can, which will be transported to the state medical examiner’s office Tuesday.
Numerous Williamsburg Police officers participated in the investigation Monday. Bird thanked all the search and rescue agencies, which took part in the investigation Monday, in addition to Kentucky State Police which brought down forensic equipment to help collect evidence at the scene.