All of his neighbors said the man was “very polite” but suspicious.
Dressed in a camouflage baseball cap with a shirt draped over his shoulder, he carried a water bottle in hot weather and went door to door looking for “community service work” in Clarksville, in Indiana, neighbors told detectives.
“This young man looked great to me,” Don Miller, a Clarksville owner, told WDRB. “Like a young boy who just graduated from high school or college, and he really surprised me.”
Detectives were looking for clues to the gruesome murder of Melody Gambetty, 67, a former News and Tribune employee who retired in March, the local newspaper reported.
Firefighters rushed to his apartment on Wednesday as smoke billowed behind his door. Upon entering, firefighters moved a body to the ground and realized Gambetty had been beheaded. He was missing most of his fingers and all of his toes, police said.
“Personally, I only live a few blocks from where this happened and the shock not only to me but to everyone here is incredible for our community,” said the head of the Clarksville Police, Mark Palmer, at News and Tribune. “To experience something like this is devastating.
Detectives interviewing the neighbors took a break when one provided the phone number of the man who was door-to-door. He had left his contact details and name – Brian W. – in case the neighbor needed work, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Brian Montez Williams, 36, answered the phone when detectives called, and he agreed to speak with them in an apartment, according to the probable cause affidavit. Williams said he asked neighbors for community service jobs before he left to visit a friend that evening, according to the probable cause affidavit.
A surveillance camera in front of Gambetty’s apartment recorded a man wearing similar clothes as Williams entered the main entrance of the building and left about three hours later with two suitcases in a red Kia belonging to Gambetty, according to the probable cause affidavit. His car was later found in an apartment where Williams said he visited a friend.
After detectives obtained a warrant to search Williams’ apartment, they discovered Gambetty’s head in a suitcase and fingers and toes in a plastic container, according to the probable cause affidavit. They also found a hand saw with blood and tissue on the blade.
Williams has been charged with murder and arson.
During a news conference broadcast by WDRB, Major Joel DeMoss said he believed Williams killed Gambetty on Monday afternoon and returned to the apartment to set it on fire to destroy the evidence.
“We think it was probably a botched heist or home invasion and things went wrong,” DeMoss said.
On Thursday, Pastor Steve Burks of the First Assembly of God in New Albany, where Gambetty attended, told WHAS his death was “surreal” and “hard to grasp.”
“She was one of those women when you meet her, you just have an instant connection and that’s what was so amazing about her,” Burks told the outlet.
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