Jesse Meece and Beth Straub, both 45, were found dead following a welfare check Monday afternoon.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
A man and woman were found dead in a bizarre murder-suicide where police say the man killed his girlfriend, hid her body in a trash can and then waited several days before taking his own life.
Officers conducting a welfare check Monday afternoon at the couple's home on Ilawood Drive off Bell Road discovered the body of Jesse Meece.
Meece, 45, was found dead on a couch in the living room of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. His mother called police after learning he had been absent from work.
During the investigation, detectives learned that officers had responded to the home just days earlier, on October 29, to conduct a welfare check on Meece's girlfriend, 45-year-old Beth Straub, after her employer reported she had missed work on October 28 and on October 29.
During the first welfare check, officers spoke with Meece. He told them that Straub left and had not returned following an argument the prior weekend.
Officers checked the residence but found no sign of Straub.
Monday night, police discovered a 96-gallon trash can in a sealed compartment in a makeshift wall in the home's basement. There was PVC piping running from the trash can into the home's sewer line and the can was capped with a Plexiglas window surrounded by a foam sealant.
The trash can was taken to the medical examiner's office where it was unsealed Tuesday morning. A woman's body, presumably Straub's, was found inside along with livestock deodorizer.
"This was a very bizarre, elaborate murder in which the female was obviously killed, placed in the trash can [and] put in this compartment inside the wall," Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron explained. "A PVC pipe was attached to the trash can to divert any decomposition odor into the sewer system and not into the residence and also a washing machine was attached to it as well. And then this wall was essentially sealed."
It's believed Straub died on or before October 27.
"While in the home, [investigators] actually saw a receipt for the foam sealant, as well as a hundred pounds of livestock deodorizer," Aaron explained, adding, "Since the foam insulation type substance was purchased on the 27th, along with the livestock deodorizer, we presume that the female had been deceased at least since October 27."
Police said there is no record of any trouble between the couple and neither had an arrest history in Nashville.
Neighbors who spoke with News 2 didn't know the couple well.
One neighbor said she had complained to the homeowner's association about suspicious activity and a foul odor coming from the house in recent weeks.
"I really don't know anything about them personally. I have had some complaints about some suspicious activity, let me put it like that," neighborhood watch leader Robert Young said.
A close friend of Meece's said she was baffled when she heard the news.
"It's blurry to tell you the truth. It was an, ‘Are you sitting down?' moment," said Meg who asked we conceal her last name. "I don't believe it really."
Meg told News 2 Meece dated her mother when she was a child growing up in Somerville, Kentucky. She said she re-connected with Meece, who she considered a father figure, two years ago when she moved to Tennessee.
"It had to have been something terrible that was never meant to happen," she said. "It had to have been. I don't know any other way it could have been."
The cause of Straub's death has not yet been determined and the investigation is ongoing.
Straub was last at work on October 23. Detectives are trying to piece together what happened between then and October 29.
"This is certainly very strange," Aaron reiterated. "Where Mr. Meece may have gotten the idea for all of this has not been determined, our investigation is still open, but it is pretty clear that this ultimately is a case of murder-suicide. In all likelihood, Ms. Straub being killed days before Meece took his own life."
Police hope the medical examiner's office will help pinpoint specific times of death for both victims.