LAPORTE | The roommate of an elderly woman whose body was found in a freezer was being held Monday on a preliminary charge of murder, authorities said.
Daniel Shoffner, 48, who lived with the victim, "gave a statement," but LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi would not say if Shoffner gave a confession.
Szilagyi said an autopsy was not done right away to allow time for the body to thaw.
Szilagyi said police responded about 7 p.m. Sunday to a call from a relative of the victim, who lived at 116 McClung Road. Police did not say whether the caller discovered the body, but Szilagyi said Shoffner was at the residence.
Szilagyi did not know how long the body had been in the small chest freezer on the first floor of the home except to say it was in there "long enough to be frozen solid."
Authorities did not release the name of the victim.
LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said the woman was about 70 years old and had been dead for "some time." Sullivan did not want to estimate when the woman died or disclose if the body had any decomposition or obvious signs of injury until after the forensic examination.
"I would say probably a long time, but I don't want to commit to hours or days," Sullivan said.
Michael Emerson, 23, who lives across the street, said there were officers with guns outside the residence and he saw an individual being escorted out of the house by the police. Initially, he thought a drug raid was occurring.
"We seen them with shotguns and everything crawling around the house," Emerson said.
Szilagyi said he anticipates formal a charge of murder being filed soon against Shoffner.
According to court records, Shoffner has an criminal record dating back to the early 1990s, with convictions for offenses like drug dealing and theft.
Emerson said he moved back to LaPorte from Fort Wayne two months ago and was disturbed by the woman's death.
"We got drug dealers across the street there, and now a murder here. It makes us just want to move away," Emerson said.