By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — St. Tammany officials are still trying to understand all the facts in the bizarre Slidell case that unfolded last week, when two women were arrested for allegedly keeping a dead man in their apartment for months, a man believed to be the father of one of the women.
Not only was the man hidden for many months in a 160-quart ice chest in their apartment home at 176 S. Military in Slidell, but the man’s hands were reportedly cut off and kept in the freezer.
St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Peter Galvan is still performing forensic work to confirm the man is the father of one woman. However, that work is one of the more challenging cases for his department since the body had decomposed to the point of only minor human tissue draped over the skeleton, all of which was found in the large ice chest.
Arrested by the end of last week were Debra Fisher, age 58, and Heidi Todd, age 44, who both lived at the apartment complex.
Fisher, believed to be the daughter of the dead man, was not charged for two days after the case surfaced since Galvan ordered a mental health evaluation. She was eventually charged by the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office with one count of mutilating or disinterring human remains and for one count of unlawful disposal of remains. The results of that evaluation have not been made public.
Todd, identified as a friend of Fisher who also lived in the apartment, was charged with one count of unlawful disposal of remains.
The Sheriff’s Office reported that the discovery came about last week when air conditioning repairmen needed to get inside the apartment to do some work. However, Fisher reportedly denied them access to the apartment, which led to a call for authorities to assist.
A Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Fisher acknowledged what had happened, and told them that her father died “some time ago,” a timetable that Galvan thinks could be up to a year.
After he died, instead of reporting the death, Fisher left her father on a bed in the residence, but as the body began to decompose, amputated his hands and put them in the freezer, Sheriff’s Office officials reported.
She later moved the body to a 160-quart ice chest, which was kept inside the house, but covered somewhat by a multitude of clutter kept in the apartment. Galvan said this week that he sees clear signs of a serious hoarding disorder in the home.
The man was reportedly 6 foot, 2 inches tall and the Coroner’s Office is still working on a positive I.D. Galvan said the man had complete dentures on the top and bottom of his mouth, so dental records cannot be used for identification.
He has taken a DNA sample from the man’s tibia bone and plans to compare it to that of Fisher, once he obtains a DNA sample from her.
Detectives are looking into whether Fisher kept the body hidden so she could continue to collect his Social Security checks. The investigation is still ongoing, officials said.