A missing person’s investigation came to a tragic ending after authorities in Indiana found a teen’s body buried in the yard of her next-door neighbour.
Patrick Scott, 59, has been charged with murder in connection with the 7 June death of 17-year-old Valerie Tindall after human remains were discovered in the backyard of his Arlington home on 27 November.
The body was found inside a barrel beneath a pile of rubble just a hundred yards from her family’s backdoor, according to FOX59.
The Rush County Sheriff’s Department said that Tindall was reported missing a day after her murder by concerned family members who had fruitlessly attempted to reach her.
Throughout the six-month investigation, Mr Scott was considered a person of interest but he initially maintained that Tindall, who worked at his lawn mowing business, had failed to turn up for work on the day of her disappearance. Authorities said Mr Scott has since admitted to using a belt to strangle Tindall following an argument.
“We moved away from Indy to get away from violence. And we moved across the street from her predator,” the teen’s grieving mother Shena Sandefur told the network.
Tindall’s mother told FOX59 that she had become concerned about Mr Scott’s interest in her daughter, describing his behaviour as that of a “jealous boyfriend.” Ms Sandefur said she had warned her daughter about Mr Scott allegedly tracking her phone, but the teen had thought nothing of it.
Mr Scott reportedly changed his story in June, saying that he did see Tindall on 7 June, but that she had supposedly left with a man after he dropped her off in a neighbouring town. He was charged with obstruction of justice and giving false information to law enforcement.
According to charging documents, he and his wife even visited the Tindall family home to offer their support as frantic loved ones desperately searched for the teen.
Before the body was positively identified by the medical examiner, authorities noticed the fingernails had orange nail polish, the same colour the teen was seen wearing on a social media post she made the day she was killed.
“This is not the outcome we had all hoped for, but I want to stress to the public that this case is far from over,” Sheriff Allan Rice said during a press conference earlier this week. “There’s still much work to be done. And our focus will now shift to successful prosecution of anyone who may be involved.”
Mr Scott reportedly told detectives that he placed TIndall’s body inside a box and wrapped it with plastic following the murder. He then allegedly proceeded to dig a hole in his backyard with a shovel and buried the remains.
The FBI and the US Marshals joined the investigation in August and more than 50 search warrants were served at Mr Scott’s home.
The suspect’s residence was searched by cadaver dogs on 11 October. The dogs initially detected cadaver scent in a nearby pond, but no remains were discovered at that site.
The following day, areas of disturbed ground came to the attention of law enforcement flying over Mr Scott’s residence.
An official manner and cause of death have yet to be released to the public.