NEW ORLEANS — Authorities investigating a missing woman’s disappearance found a dismembered human body inside a freezer Tuesday on her boyfriend’s property in New Orleans.
According to the New Orleans Police Department, officers executed a search warrant at a home in the 2300 block of Pauline Street owned by 34-year-old Benjamin Beale.
Inside, police found a series of extension cords leading from the rear of the home to a padlocked Chevrolet bus in the backyard. Officers used a key to enter the bus, following the power cords to a deep freezer.
“Upon opening the lid of the freezer, investigators observed the headless torso of what appeared to be an adult human female,” arrest records say.
Police note that the body had a deep cut along the left upper arm area which appeared to be made after the person died.
The report says officers also found an electric saw inside an ice chest “which appeared to have bits of flesh and fluid on the blade surface.” They also found a plastic face shield, goggles and garbage bags near the freezer.
Officers were unable to further examine the body “due to the rigid state of the body.”
Beale was arrested and taken to NOPD headquarters where he reportedly refused to give a statement. He was booked on a charge of obstruction of justice in a death investigation.
Neighbor Shonda Lawton says Beale was like any other neighbor and that nothing about him stood out to her.
"He would pass the house and we spoke," she said. "He even came and sat on the porch and had pizza with everybody. This is a quiet neighborhood. You wouldn't think anything like this would happen."
Arrest documents say officers were investigating the disappearance of 36-year-old Julia Dardar who was reported missing on Dec. 23. Her ex-husband, Micah Dardar, said that his estranged wife moved out of their home and moved in with Beale.
Officers later reportedly interviewed Beale who said that he had not seen or spoken to Dardar since Dec. 16 and said that Dardar was suicidal and had moved out but left all of her belongings and car behind. At that time, Beale said he wanted to report her as missing.
On Jan. 5, Beale went to NOPD’s fifth district station, giving a statement that he had not heard from Dardar since Dec. 12. He said that they were having relationship problems due to her alleged drug habits and Dardar was in the process of moving out of his home.
“Beale alluded to the possibility that Julia may have committed suicide and/or overdosed on an illegal substance,” arrest records say. He suggested that Dardar went to the “End of the World” - the abandoned naval base near the home.
The officers note that Beale did not show any indication that he was worried about Dardar or tried to find her. He reportedly told officers that he did not report her missing because he lost his phone and could not call the police.
During the search of the home, officers also found what was believed to be an active “clandestine methamphetamine laboratory” in the home’s kitchen and residue that tested positive for meth.
In a large steel safe in one of the home’s bedrooms, officers note that they found small plastic bags of drugs, a purse that contained a wallet with the ID and credit cards belonging to Dardar.
Beale was also booked on charges of operating a clandestine drug lab, illegal carrying of weapons, distribution of meth, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
This is a developing story. Stay with WWL-TV for updates as new information becomes available.