An Ohio man and his live-in girlfriend were arrested Saturday, after the remains of his missing ex-girlfriend's body were found in his freezer, authorities said.
Arturo Novoa, aka Anthony Gonzalez, 31, and Katrina Layton, 34, were charged with abuse of a corpse — a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison. They are currently being held in jail with their bond set at $1 million each.
Authorities believe the body is that of Shannon Graves, a 28-year-old woman who was reported missing on June 22. She is presumed to be dead and the victim of foul play, according to the criminal complaint provided to BuzzFeed News.
Layton, who became Novoa's live-in girlfriend, "started living the life of the victim," Youngstown City Prosecutor Dana Lantz told BuzzFeed News.
Layton moved into Graves' home with Novoa, drove her car, and used her cell phone and her food card, according to Lantz. She even looked after Graves' dog, authorities said.
"She was the new girlfriend," Lantz said, adding that while it was not a case of identity theft, Layton "basically took over [Graves'] place in Mr. Novoa's life."
Police on Saturday recovered the body from a freezer at the home of one of Novoa's friends, Kenny Eshenbaugh, according to the complaint.
Novoa had asked for his freezer to be put in Eshenbaugh's basement. He told Eshenbaugh that his power had been cut and he didn't want "his freezer full of meat to spoil," the complaint said.
Eshenbaugh agreed but noticed there was a padlock on the freezer. On Saturday, Eshenbaugh called police after his wife opened the freezer and discovered human remains kept in "more than one bag" inside the freezer, according to the complaint.
Novoa was described by authorities as Graves' "live-in boyfriend." Graves' last known contact with anyone was on Feb. 24, Lantz said.
Graves' sister, Debbie Depaul, reported her missing last month after she became concerned about Graves' prolonged disappearance, according to a police incident report.
Depaul told police that Graves abused heroin and other drugs, so it was common for her to go long periods of time without communicating, but that "she had never gone this long without speaking to anyone," the report said.
She said she was concerned for her sister's safety due to Graves' lifestyle and her disappearance.
Lantz told BuzzFeed News that she believes the victim in Novoa's freezer is Graves but that authorities are awaiting official confirmation from the medical examiner's office.
Authorities have not yet established a clear motive and have not charged Novoa and Layton with Graves' death. However, Lantz suggested that the two suspects could face additional charges as the investigation continued. It was also unclear how long Novoa had allegedly hidden Graves' body in his freezer.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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