ASH FORK, Ariz. – A welfare check on a man who hasn’t picked his mail up for a while in Ashfork, Arizona, led investigators to a mystery, officials say.
In a news release, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said that on April 7, deputies received a call from the U.S. Post Office in Ashfork about a man who hasn’t picked up his mail in more than a year. The man was identified as John McCabe, 67. Deputies went to his house for a welfare check.
When deputies got to McCabe’s property, they encountered another man named Terry Welfenberg, 76, according to KTVK. He reportedly told deputies that McCabe left two years ago. He also claimed that he broke into the property, stole some of his guns, and had been living there for a while.
Deputies contacted detectives to assist with the investigation based on Welfenberg’s strange behavior and for the suspicious circumstances behind McCabe’s disappearance, the news outlet reported.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau was unable to figure out if McCabe was alive and had moved. The sheriff’s office said they conducted a search of the property. Welfenberg was arrested and charged with burglary and theft of firearms.
During the search of the property, a volunteer found a skull fragment in the fire pit located near the trailer. Detectives obtained a search warrant and found other bones, according to the sheriff’s office. Three forensic testing agencies found that the bones were human.
Days later, another search was done and investigators found a medical ID bracelet and wallet that belonged to McCabe, the sheriff’s office said.
“What could have been a simple welfare check on a man who may have simply left the area, was only discovered to be something far more nefarious because of the instincts of the responding deputies and the tenacity of the CIB detectives,” Sheriff David Rhodes said in the news release. “Now a suspected murderer is in custody and there can be justice for a man whose tragic death may never have been discovered.”
It’s not clear if the remains have been positively identified as McCabe, KTVK reported.
Additional charges are pending including a murder charge, the sheriff’s office said.
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