All her neighbors said the man was “very polite” but suspicious.
Wearing a camouflage baseball cap with a shirt draped over his shoulder, he carried a water bottle on the warm day and walked door to door seeking “community service work” in Clarksville, Indiana, the neighbors told detectives.
“That young man looked super to me,” Don Miller, a landlord in Clarksville, told WDRB. “Like a young kid just out of high school or college, and he sure surprised me.”
The detectives were searching for clues in the gruesome killing of 67-year-old Melody Gambetty, a former employee of the News and Tribune who retired in March, the local newspaper reported.
Firefighters rushed to her apartment Wednesday as smoke floated from behind her door. As they entered, the firefighters moved a body on the floor and realized Gambetty had been decapitated. She was missing most of her fingers and all of her toes, police said.
“Personally, I only live a couple blocks away from where this happened and the shock value not just to me but everybody here is unbelievable for our community,” Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer told the News and Tribune. “To experience something like this, it’s devastating.”
The detectives questioning neighbors caught a break when one provided the phone number of the man going door to door. He had left his contact information and name — Brian W. — in case the neighbor needed work done, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Brian Montez Williams, 36, answered the phone when detectives called, and he agreed to speak with them at an apartment, according to the probable cause affidavit. Williams said he sought community service work from neighbors before leaving to visit a friend in the evening, the probable cause affidavit said.
A surveillance camera across from Gambetty’s apartment recorded a man in similar clothes as Williams enter the main entrance of the building and leave about three hours later with two suitcases in a red Kia owned by Gambetty, according to the probable cause affidavit. Her car was later found at an apartment where Williams said he visited a friend.
After detectives secured a warrant to search Williams’ apartment, they discovered Gambetty’s head inside a suitcase and fingers and toes in a plastic container, the probable cause affidavit said. They also found a hand saw with blood and tissue on the blade.
Williams was charged with murder and arson.
In a news conference broadcast by WDRB, Maj. Joel DeMoss said he believes Williams killed Gambetty on Monday afternoon and returned to the apartment to set it on fire to destroy evidence.
“We believe this was probably a botched robbery or home invasion and things just went bad,” DeMoss said.
On Thursday, Pastor Steve Burks from First Assembly of God in New Albany, where Gambetty attended, told WHAS her death was “surreal” and “hard to grasp.”
“She was one of those women when you meet her, you just have an instant connection and that is what was so amazing about her,” Burks told the news outlet.
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