Headless torso in freezer, bloody power saw found at home of Ninth Ward man, NOPD says in court documents
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Detectives found a woman’s headless torso stuffed in a freezer and a hidden power saw with bits of flesh on its blade Tuesday (Jan. 11) when they searched a Ninth Ward man’s residence as part of an investigation into a woman’s disappearance, New Orleans police said in court documents filed Wednesday.
The gruesome details were contained in an arrest warrant affidavit for 34-year-old Benjamin Beale, who was booked with obstruction of justice in a death investigation and several drug and weapons charges after refusing to answer questions about the dismembered corpse during an interview at police headquarters.
Beale has not been charged with a homicide or with any crime related to the disappearance of 36-year-old Julia Dardar. But the court documents confirm what Dardar’s family members told WVUE-Fox 8: That the NOPD executed a search warrant of Beale’s property in the 2300 block of Pauline Street in hopes of finding clues about the missing woman who recently lived there with Beale.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s office has not revealed the identity of the dismembered body found at Beale’s house.
Dardar was reported missing Dec. 23 by her estranged husband, who told police she had addiction and mental health issues and had moved in with Beale in the Florida neighborhood.
Beale told an NOPD officer who visited the house that he had not seen the woman since Dec. 16, and that he believed she was suicidal, because she had moved out without taking her belongings or car. It was then that Beale suggested that he should report the woman as missing, the affidavit said.
Beale agreed to meet with police again Jan. 5, and told them this time that he had not spoken to Julia Dardar since Dec. 12. He said they had been in the process of ending their co-habitation “due to her drug habits,” and suggested that she might have committed suicide or overdosed in a part of the abandoned U.S. Naval Support station known to street drug users as “The End of the World.” Beale told detectives he had not reported the woman as missing sooner because he had lost his cellphone and had no way to contact police.
Six days later, on Tuesday, detectives executed a search warrant to seek clues to Dardar’s disappearance at Beale’s property. A padlocked bus sitting in the back yard with extension cords providing power to its interior drew their attention, the court document said.
The detectives entered the bus and found the power cords providing electricity to a deep freezer placed aboard the bus.
“Upon opening the lid of the freezer, investigators observed the headless torso of what appeared to be an adult human female,” the affidavit said. “A deep linear cut was visible along the left shoulder/upper arm area, which appeared to have been inflicted post-mortem.”
The court document said detectives also found nearby a Coleman ice chest containing a reciprocating saw, “which appeared to have bits of flesh and fluid on the blade surface. A plastic face shield, goggles and additional garbage bags were also located in close proximity to the freezer.”
Police also said in the affidavit that they discovered a makeshift methamphetamine lab in Beale’s kitchen, and a safe in the closet of a bedroom in which was locked a purse, a wallet “and the ID and credit cards belonging to the missing person.”
Beale was taken to police headquarters, where he refused to make any further statement. He was booked with obstruction of justice in a death investigation, illegal carrying of a weapon in the presence of controlled dangerous substances, distribution of methamphetamine, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, and two counts of creating/operating a clandestine drug lab, according to court records.
Beale made his first appearance in Orleans Parish Magistrate Court on Wednesday. A magistrate judge set his bond at $400,000.
- $100,000 for obstruction of justice
- $25,000 for distribution of methamphetamine
- $150,000 for illegally carrying a weapon with a controlled deadly substance
- $25,000 for possession with intent to distribute marijuana
- $100,000 for creating or operating a clandestine drug lab
His next court appearance is scheduled for March 13.
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