A 68-year-old California man accused of killing and dismembering his wife was cooking her flesh and bones at the time police officers came to arrest him, according to officials.
Police said they responded to neighbors’ complaints about a foul odor coming from the home of Frederick Hengl and his wife, 73-year-old Anna Faris, in Oceanside on Friday.
An officer who entered the home through a window said he saw on the stove three pans containing what later turned out to be the remains of the elderly woman. Her severed head was discovered in the freezer.
Deputy District Attorney Katherine Flaherty said there is no evidence of cannibalism at this time, Fox 8 San Diego reported..
Hengl pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges on Wednesday, among them first-degree murder, willful cruelty to an elder and committing an unlawful act with human remains. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
At around 11.10am last Friday, officers responded to a report of an unbearable smell coming from Hengl’s home in the 400 block of North Ditmar street.
Since no one was home at the time, they climbed through the window and observed what appeared to be meat cooking in several pans on the stove.
Police found the 68-year-old man, described by neighbors as a notorious cross-dresser, at a nearby bar and after interviewing him realized that Hengl was in the process of dismembering his wife’s body, according to law enforcement officials.
Flaherty said officers opened the freezer to discover Faris’ head severed at the top of the cervical vertebrae wrapped in a bag. A meat grinder was ‘in use’ nearby.
When they entered the bathroom, investigators found a work bench with a saw and boning knife, along with other cutting instruments. They also came across a plastic bag filled with chunks of freshly cut bone.
Prosecutors believe Hengl killed his wife on or between the dates of November 1 and 16. Neighbors told reporters that they had not seen the woman in about a month and had heard the sounds of a power saw from the couple’s two-bedroom bungalow style home about two weeks ago.
Several neighbors said Faris had been behaving strangely since last spring, walking around with pants around her ankles, rarely bathing, carrying a butcher knife and telling strangers things like ‘God will smite you.’
‘My neighbor was just telling me she’d chase her down the street with a knife or she’d have her clothes off, pants down; you could tell she was a little bit out of it,’ neighbor Brett Lord told 10News.
‘She’d stand there, feed the birds, talk to folks walking by and her pants would fall. She didn’t seem to notice, ever,’ neighbor Jerry Parnell told 10News.
Her husband, however, also has gained notoriety around town for dressing up in women’s clothing and wearing makeup.
In one instance a neighbor described seeing him wearing a floor-length purple dress coupled with a long pearl necklace and earrings. In his hand he held a purse, reports UT San Diego.
‘He would cross-dress and you almost couldn’t recognize the guy,’ Mr Parnell said.
Police say there are no previous reports of domestic violence from the home though neighbours said they had made calls on Mrs Hengl in the past.
‘About a week and a half ago, I noticed a pretty gross smell,’ next-door neighbor Erick Chavez, 21, told NBC San Diego.
By Friday morning, it had grown absolutely unbearable he said, prompting him to report it.
Entering the home police discovered what remained of Faris whom they said had been dead for at least one day.
Arrested outside a downtown bar was her 68-year-old husband with police questioning neighbors on possible power tools or heavy machinery heard coming from the home as of late.
‘I just thought somebody was working in their garage,’ neighbor Nancy Wells, one of several who confirmed such sounds told CBS8.
In addition to the loud sounds, Mr Chavez said Hengl had shown a particular attachment to his trash cans as of late.
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