Suspect in Fort Worth killing arrested in Mississippi

Posted Monday, Feb. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A 21-year-old man is being held on suspicion of murder in Mississippi in connection with the death of a Fort Worth woman whose body was found hidden last month inside her garage, almost two months after she'd been reported missing.

Matthew William Woychik is accused of killing 43-year-old Tammy M. Bates, with whom he had been briefly staying, then hiding her body away in the garage of her home in the 9900 block of Lone Eagle Drive in west Fort Worth.

Bates' ex-boyfriend discovered the woman's severely decomposed body wrapped in blankets after going to the rental house Jan. 27 to help clean it out, family members said.

A cause and manner of death were still pending an anthropology examination by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

A friend of Bates filed a missing person report with Fort Worth police on Dec. 1, telling police that he had last seen Bates' Mercedes-Benz parked in her driveway on the afternoon of Nov. 15.

According to the missing person report, the friend had stopped by Bates' house on Nov. 25 and noticed a side door open. Inside, he found the woman's pets, including a dog described as in "bad shape," which had obviously not been fed in quite some time.

The friend told police that neighbors agreed to take in Bates' pets and that he and Bates' sister had been trying to reach Bates but without success.

He told officers that although he did not think foul play was involved, it was unlike Bates to have been gone for a long period of time because of her pets.

Homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson said police did not initially search Bates' home after the missing persons report was filed because "several people were interviewed who had been inside the residence and stated she was not there."

"Arrangements had been made to meet the owner of the house to look at the residence for any signs of foul play," Johnson said. "Bates' body was discovered prior to the search."

Johnson said police located Bates' vehicle during the missing person investigation. She declined to say where the car was found or whether Woychik is suspected of taking it.

Knew something was wrong

Teresa Gaishin, Bates' younger sister, said she and her mother had last talked to Bates by phone on Nov. 16. During the conversation, she said Bates mentioned to her that she was letting a man stay at the house in exchange for helping her with bills.

"She said she was helping him because he had nowhere to go and she needed a little help on her bills," Gaishin said. "That was the first time she had brought him up. I don't know where she met him or how. She thought she was doing him a favor."

By the next day, Gaishin said, family members were unable to reach Bates.

"We kind of knew something was not right but then again, my sister can go a week without calling," Gaishin said.

Gaishin said family members became more concerned about a week later -- after Bates' friend stopped by and found her pets inside.

"Once we found out the animals had been left there, starved, then we knew for sure that there was something wrong," Gaishin said. "My sister wouldn't have left her animals."

Johnson said police are still investigating Bates' exact date and time of death.

On Nov. 18, two days after Bates' last phone call with family members, Woychik posted two videos on YouTube that were taken inside Bates' living room.

In his first video, Woychik -- wearing dark sunglasses and a shirt that family members say had belonged to Bates' ex-boyfriend -- seeks topic ideas for his podcasts.

The second is a profanity-laced rant about another woman whom Woychik claims is seeking a restraining order against him despite being the one who is stalking him.

Bates' cellphone can be heard ringing unanswered in the background in the second video.

Arrested in Mississippi

Woychik was arrested in Lee County, Miss., on Feb. 11 after Tupelo police, responding to a suspicious person call, encountered the man and discovered he was wanted on a murder warrant out of Fort Worth.

He was taken into custody without incident and has since met with Fort Worth detectives who traveled to Mississippi, Johnson said.

Gaishin said the arrest has brought her family some comfort.

She described Bates as a beautiful person who loved life and people and lit up a room with her presence.

"When she walked into a room, everybody wanted to meet her," Gaishin said.

Gaishin said her sister loved her two cats and Dachshund dog and had recently started a business, called Fickle and Feist, making high fashion pet apparel and jewelry.

"She was really big on making jewelry for me and herself," Gaishin said. "So she was sprouting out to make jewelry for animals because she loved her animals and because she just thought everybody who really loved their animals will want their animals to shine."

Gaishin said that although she and her sister had previously lost contact due to disagreements, she feels fortunate that they reconnected a couple of years ago.

"Since we got back into contact with each other, we were like best friends," she said. "It would have killed me if I would have not been able to have some time with her before she passed."

Deanna Boyd, (817) 390-7655

Twitter: @deannaboyd

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