Dead Woman Dismembered, Buried in Backyard by Squatters Who Moved Into Her Home: Police

A dead woman in Las Vegas was dismembered and buried in her backyard by a group of squatters before they moved into her home and took over her finances, according to police.

In April of this year, police discovered the body of 82-year-old Lucille Payne buried in the backyard of her home located on Shore Breeze Drive, according to local news station KLAS-TV's Investigative Team (I-Team).

Homicide investigators told the outlet that Payne lived alone and did not have any close relatives, so when she died in 2018, her body went undiscovered. The investigators said they believe that Payne's body was initially discovered by a group of squatters, who took over her home after realizing that it appeared empty.

"After finding her, the decision was made between several people that they were going to dismember her body and bury her," Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told KLAS-TV. "And then basically drain her finances and sell off her belongings, fraudulently."

Las Vegas Police
A dead woman was dismembered and buried in her backyard by a group of squatters who took over her home, according to the Las Vegas PD. Above, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department vehicle blocks traffic during the NV COVID Trace Community Activation at Life Time Athletic on October 28, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gabe Ginsberg/Getty

Payne's neighbors said that her house appeared empty for years but police did not become suspicious of her home until they received a tip this April.

Finding Payne's body did not take long as "She was not buried very deeply," Spencer told the news station.

"An officer started to move the dirt and found her arm inside a very shallow grave in the backyard," he said.

The Clark County coroner's office announced in August that Payne's death was ruled a homicide due to stab wounds and blunt force trauma. While police previously believed that Payne was murdered, new evidence has uncovered that Payne died several years before her body was discovered in April, said Spencer.

"Next door neighbors were able to confirm for us that they had heard digging over the previous couple of weeks," Spencer explained. "There's been so much work to do to make sure we uncovered every potential possibility that had occurred."

The group of squatters sold a number of Payne's belongings, including her car. The unidentified suspects currently face charges related to selling Payne's items and improper burial, KLAS-TV reported.

Newsweek reached out to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department for comment.