When the Goldsboro, N.C., resident spotted the freezer at her neighbor’s yard sale last month, she thought she was getting a good deal. The neighbor was charging $30 for a deep freezer with a hinged lid — the kind of freezer large enough for someone to climb inside.
But the neighbor said there was a caveat, she recalled to WNCN. She couldn’t start using the freezer immediately because the neighbor had promised to lend it out to her church’s Sunday school class for a “time capsule” project.
The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, says her neighbor told her the church would come to pick up the items inside the freezer, which was sealed shut with duct tape. Afterwards, the buyer was supposed to get the freezer back.
So the woman waited.
Three weeks passed; the church members never came.
“Nothing was adding up, so I started to become suspicious about it,” the woman told WRAL.
She was keeping the freezer plugged in in the corner of a spare bedroom, alongside houseplants, an armchair, a vacuum cleaner and spare toiletries. Last Friday, she peeled off the duct tape and looked inside.
The first things the woman saw were a green sheet and a bag of kitty litter, she told WTVD.
Then, her eyes landed on a human foot.
“I saw toes and a foot and ankle,” the woman said. She slammed the freezer shut.
It must be fake, she thought to herself, opening the lid again.
This time, she was sure it was real.
“My heart went into my throat,” the woman told WRAL. She ran out of the house and called 911.
“I have a serious problem,” she told the 911 dispatcher. “My neighbor sold me a deep freezer. I just opened it and there’s a body in there I think.”
“Your neighbor sold it to you?” the dispatcher asked.
“I am freaking out,” she responded, short of breath.
“I understand, ma’am,” said the dispatcher. “Your neighbor sold it to you?”
“Yes,” she said.
The Goldsboro Police Department said in a statement on Wednesday that an autopsy confirmed the freezer indeed contained human remains. The body belonged to a Goldsboro resident, but her identity is being withheld until next of kin can be notified, police said.
The medical examiner determined that there were no signs of foul play and her death was natural. The police are investigating. Concealing the death of a person is a felony, and disposal of bodies is controlled by state hygiene and environmental laws.
The name of the original freezer owner has not been released. The woman who bought the freezer has a strong and disturbing suspicion: that her neighbor dumped her own mother’s dead body inside the freezer.
The woman told WNCN that her neighbor’s elderly mother had lived with her, but she hadn’t seen her since September, when the mother had a stroke.
The mother had interacted with the woman when she was sick, she told WTVD: “I recognized the foot. It was her mother’s foot.”
Other neighbors said the freezer seller has since moved to West Virginia, where she told people she was visiting her mother at a nursing home.
“I think maybe the daughter was dependent on the mother’s check and didn’t know what else to do,” the woman told WRAL.
Speaking to WTVD, she said: “I’m glad that I was the one who was chosen to be able to find her mother so that that poor woman can rest.”