A Philadelphia man has been arrested after human body parts, including deep-fried hands and feet, were found inside a U-Haul truck, at a burglarized home, and in a dumpster.
Taray Herring, 47, a registered sex offender, was arraigned Saturday on charges including burglary, abuse of a corpse and evidence-tampering, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Police responding Thursday morning to reports of a burglary on the 1000 block of Sanibel Street in the Somerton neighborhood began chasing a U-Haul truck spotted driving away from the address.
After the truck was pulled over, the driver got out and reportedly said, “I don’t want anything to do with this, and there’s a body in the back.”
Officers opened the back of the vehicle and found a man’s dismembered body in a trash bag, along with an unspecified weapon.
The truck’s two occupants – the unnamed driver and a passenger later identified as Herring – were arrested, but the driver was released without charges after questioning.
The victim has not been officially named, but neighbors have identified him as 70-year-old Peter Gerold, who ran a massage therapy practice out of his home, CBS Philly reported.
Police said that on Wednesday someone from out of state called them to request that they conduct a welfare check on Gerold. Officers visited the residence but did not force their way inside as it seemed properly secured, with no signs of a break-in or foul play.
After interviewing Herring, detectives found body parts in an unattached garage behind Gerold’s home, along with evidence someone had tried to burn the remains, Action News reported.
Sources told the outlet that the body parts had been cooked in some kind of oil, hence their burnt appearance.
A search of dumpsters at a nearby strip mall uncovered further remains, including “deep-fried” hands and feet stuffed in trash bags, a law enforcement source told the Inquirer.
Cut-up legs which had not been deep-fried were also found in trash bags at the same location.
On Friday, cops executing a search warrant with the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia removed over 60 exotic animals from Gerold’s home, including 30 parrots, as well as bearded drag lizards, tortoises and koi fish.
Neighbors said they hadn’t heard from the longtime resident and homeowner in about a week and had feared that someone had taken advantage of his kind nature.
“He helped out a lot of people, so you know it was somebody that he probably helped out at one point that came back and did this to him,” one neighbor told CBS Philly.
Records show that Herring has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2001, including convictions for aggravated assault, indecent assault, harassment and simple assault. He is also a registered sex offender listed on the state police’s website.
Herring has been ordered held without bail, and is due in court for a preliminary hearing on March 1.