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The body of a woman who disappeared in 2013 has been discovered in a freezer at a scrap metal business in Florida.
A heavily redacted police report indicates that Lilian Argueta, the owner of the Margate, Florida business, discovered the corpse of Heather Anne Lacey in an unlocked upright freezer that had been delivered to the facility on March 15. Police confirmed Lacey's identity through fingerprints.
Argueta recalled the scene with horror.
“It thought it was a witch, or a mannequin,” Argueta told the South Florida Sun-Sentinal. “I thought, ‘It can’t be a person.’ But there was a bad odor ... I feel bad. She was a woman, and something bad happened to her.”
Arugeta remembers nearby business owners coming to see what had happened after they heard her screaming.
Lacey had gone missing in the autumn of 2013. Her last Facebook status was made in November of that year. Her mother, Patti Palumbo, reports that Lacey had become addicted to painkillers and cocaine in 2006 after receiving a Caesarean section during the birth of one of her children, leading to criminal behavior.
“She was a very smart girl and had a lot going for her and unfortunately, her downfall was getting into drugs, doing drugs and being addicted,” Palumbo told the Sun-Sentinel. “It put her in a cycle that led us here.”
Lacey's father, Randell Lacey, reported her as missing in December 2013. He told the police in Hollywood, Florida that his daughter was living on the streets and was bipolar.
Police believe that what at first seemed like an unrelated discovery may be connected to Lacey's killing. On Feb. 17, 2019, the decomposing body of Jonathan Escarzaga, 36, was found by police after neighbors reported a foul smell coming from his apartment. The Broward County Medical Examiner could not deduce a cause of death.
After a police investigation, Escarzaga's belongings were removed by a Margate appliance refurbishing company, ultimately winding up at Argueta's facility.
Escarzaga's connection to Lacey is unclear. It is also unclear if he played a role in her death. Lacey's family said they do not know him at all.
Police are not saying how Lacey had died, according to The Associated Press.
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