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Two men in Alabama are in custody after authorities found the remains of a missing woman in a storage unit.
James Michael Barrett, 52, and Edward Norman, 60, have been charged with abuse of a corpse after the remains of Britta Ann Lashley, 36, were discovered in a storage unit belonging to Barrett in Prattville, Alabama — just northwest of Montgomery.
Lashley was last seen on Feb. 21, 2021, near the 1000 Block of Autauga County Road 21 in Prattville, according to the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office. Her mother, Tammy Lashley — who lives in nearly 300 miles north in Mount Juliet, Tennessee — reported her missing on June 15, 2022, telling authorities that she hadn’t heard from her daughter since February 2021 and believed “something bad” had happened, according to a deposition obtained by AL.com
Tammy Lashley allegedly told authorities that she'd spoken to Barrett several weeks before filing the missing persons report, according to the legal documents.
“He [Barrett] advised her that he would have Britta Lashley contact her; however, Britta Lashley did not contact her mother,” the deposition stated.
When authorities appealed for information pertaining to Lashley’s disappearance, they noted she was known “to hang around with” Barrett.
Officials obtained a search warrant for Barrett's Prattville storage united on July 12, and found a woman's remains in it, according to a July 18 release from the sheriff's office. Although the woman’s body has yet to be formally identified, authorities believe it is their missing person.
“Based on Britt’s physical description, her known tattoos, and other investigative findings, the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office is confident the remains are those of Britta Ann Lashley,” officials stated.
According to the deposition obtained by AL.com, Lashley’s remains were in a mummified state.
Authorities reportedly told Lashley’s sister, Tish Forgey, that Lashley’s body was first stored at the Comfort Stay motel in Montgomery, Alabama for nine months, according to AL.com. Barrett allegedly worked at the motel, which had been under renovation.
Edward Norman allegedly rented a U-Haul and helped Barrett move Lashley’s body from the motel to the Prattville storage unit on July 10, according to the deposition.
“She was tossed out like a piece of garbage,” Forgey told the Alabama outlet. “Nobody deserves to end this way.”
A cause of death has yet to be determined pending the results of a postmortem examination, which was performed on July 13, but Forgey wrote on a GoFundMe page that authorities told their family that Lashley was “brutally murdered.”
District Attorney C.J. Robinson, however, said on Monday that there was as yet no indication that Lashley was the victim of homicide, according to AL.com.
Oxygen.com reached out to the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney for an update on the case but did not receive an immediate response.
Forgey told AL.com of her sister that “she was always the one to laugh until she cried.”
“You think this happens to other people,” Forgey said. “It doesn’t happen to you.”
The investigation into Lashley's death is reportedly ongoing.
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