A 47-year-old registered sex offender in Philadelphia was charged with burglary and abuse of a corpse after a dismembered body was found inside a U-Haul truck last week.
The charges came after police officers responded to an in-progress burglary call at a house in the city on Feb. 11. Police followed a U-Haul that drove away from the property and pulled over the truck a short way down the road.
The driver immediately got out of the vehicle and told officers, “I don’t want anything to do with this, and there’s a body in the back,” Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Gripp said, according to the Inquirer.
“I was paid to move a body,” Gripp said the driver added, according to KYW-TV.
The victim’s torso was found inside a trash bag in the back of the U-Haul, police said, per the Inquirer.
Herring was the passenger in the truck. The driver was not charged and later was released from custody.
After Herring spoke with homicide investigators, police searched dumpsters behind a strip mall and found black trash bags with a person’s hands and feet, all of which had been deep-fried, a source told the Inquirer.
Cut-up legs, not deep-fried, also were found in trash bags, the source said.
Police have not identified the victim, but property records and neighbors identify Peter Gerold, 70, as the owner of the home that was burglarized.
“We’re working under the idea that that individual lived in that house, by himself, so we’re assuming that is the individual,” Gripp told KYW.
Police also executed a search warrant and removed over 30 parrots and other animals from the property.
Neighbors were unsettled by what police found on the property and in the surrounding area.
“It sounds like something out of a movie or something. I can’t really; I’m still trying to process it myself,” neighbor Tiffany McLean told KYW.
It is unclear how or if Herring and the victim knew each other, but some neighbors said they had not seen Gerold in a week and feared someone had taken advantage of his kindness.
“He helped out a lot of people, so you know it was somebody that he probably helped out at one point that came back and did this to him,” one neighbor said.
Herring was being held without bail, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 1.
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