Guilty: ‘Head in a handbag’ grandmother who murdered husband, chopped him up and moved remains from house to house for six years

A 63-year-old grandmother has been found guilty of murdering her husband, chopping up his corpse then moving it from house to house for six years.

Loretta Burroughs pretended her husband Daniel had run off to Florida with a younger woman from the home they shared in Mays Landing, NJ.

She was found guilty yesterday of first degree murder for stabbing her husband to death, chopping up his body with a knife and a saw, packing it into two plastic totes, and dragging it with her as she moved three times in six years.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

ath and dismembered his corpse but claimed he had run off to Florida 

  • Grandmother concealed body parts in two large boxes and when they were opened his skull and jawbone were in an olive-colored handbag 
  • Police swooped on her home as she was about to move for a fourth time after his brother reported her husband missing 
  • Pathologist determined she had stabbed him to death and sawn his body into pieces

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Loretta was about to move for a fourth time on May 17, 2013, from Ventnor, NJ to Villas, NJ, when authorities arrived at the door of her new home with a search warrant.

They were investigating her for fraud in relation to the disappearance of her husband, Daniel S. Burroughs, 63, who was reported missing on September 1, 2007.

‘She asked if we were also searching the Ventnor house,’ testified Sgt. Lynn Dougherty of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. When told that they were, Loretta’s physical demeanor ‘changed completely. Her whole body sunk. She lost the color in her face, she was wringing her hands, very nervous.’

In the guest bedroom closet of Loretta’s Ventnor home, Detective Caroline MacDonald of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office discovered two large boxes wrapped in multiple plastic garbage bags.

As she started to open the bags, she smelled the distinct odor of decomposition and called the medical examiner. The boxes were transported to the morgue.

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Victim: Daniel Burroughs was missing for six years before his chopped up remains were found at his wife's home in Ventnor, New Jersey, in 2013 

Victim: Daniel Burroughs was missing for six years before his remains were found at his wife’s home

Graphic: The jury was shown how the dead man's remains had been systematically taken apart

Graphic: The jury was shown how the dead man’s remains had been systematically taken apart

Gruesome: A woman's handbag, soaked in decomposition fluid, was found in one of the plastic totes. It contained the victim's skull and jawbone.

Gruesome: A woman’s handbag, soaked in decomposition fluid, was found in one of the plastic totes. It contained the victim’s skull and jawbone.

Dr Charles F Siebert Jr, a forensic pathologist, began opening the boxes. Both were surrounded by nine layers of plastic bags in alternating directions, Siebert testified.

He also found dryer sheets, air fresheners, and scented beads to mask the odor of death.

Inside the first container, Siebert testified, he found a woman’s handbag. ‘I described it as olive but I didn’t know the color, because it had been sitting in decomposition fluid,’ he said.

Inside the handbag were a ‘cranium and mandible’ — a skull and jawbone.

The second, larger plastic container contained more bones, including the left upper arm and lower legs.

Siebert testified that he saw cut marks on the ribs that were consistent with stab wounds. He determined that the person had died by homicide.

Dr Stuart Alexander, a forensic odontologist, or dentist, from Cranbury, NJ, testified that he positively identified the remains in the plastic tote as being Daniel Burroughs.

Alexander compared Burroughs’ dental records to the teeth in the skull.

Donna Fontana, a forensic anthropologist with the New Jersey State Police, testified about the condition of the bones in the boxes.

‘There was no gnawing from animals and no bleaching of the bones,’ she said. ‘That means the bones were in a protected environment, with no sun exposure, and not exposed to the environment where they were attacked by animals.’

Fontana then used a replica of a human skeleton and photographs to explain to the jury what had happened to the bones.

She said the right tibia, which is the large bone of the lower leg, had been cut with a knife and a saw. Because the cut edge was the same color of the bone, she said it had been sawed at the time of death.

Several vertebrae were missing, and others showed signs of trauma, including ‘linear cuts as if produced by a knife.’

Demonstration: Donna Fontana, forensic anthropologist with the New Jersey State Police, uses a replica skeleton to show the jury where the bones of the victim's leg had been sawed.

Demonstration: Donna Fontana, forensic anthropologist with the New Jersey State Police, uses a replica skeleton to show the jury where the bones of the victim’s leg had been sawed.

Forensic anthropologist Donna Fontana testified that all the wounds to the victim's ribs were made with a knife. The third rib on the left side was completely fractured.

Forensic anthropologist Donna Fontana testified that all the wounds to the victim’s ribs were made with a knife. The third rib on the left side was completely fractured.

 

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