A large trash can rolled and twirled along a wind-swept road in the tiny town of Stanley, New Mexico, before one of the town’s 100 or so residents got curious enough to unlatch its ratchet-locked lid.
What rancher Fidel Montoya found on Feb. 19 not only horrified him, but also fueled a statewide search for a suspect in the double murder of a retired Albuquerque lawyer and his 28-year-old transgender tenant.
Albuquerque police charged Charles Anthony Spiess, 32, Wednesday in the murders of Eugene Carrell Ray, 70, and Zakaria Fry, according to jail records. Fry was renting a room from Ray at the time they both disappeared on Jan. 18, and Spiess might have been living there at the time, too, according to KOB4.
Montoya noticed the trash bin was unusually heavy, unlatched the ratchet lock and found Fry’s naked body inside, covered in white paint. Fry was a transgender woman and her body was initially identified by authorities as a man’s.
“I tried to pull the sack, and I said it’s got to be dogs or pets,” Montoya told the station. “I got in and flipped on the side so I could get a little better grab on it. And that’s when I felt the toes and the fingers. And then I ripped it open, and I could see young legs with the hand between the legs.”
Ray’s body was found the same day, according to KOAT, just a couple of miles from where Montoya had found Fry’s body. Ray’s body was in a trunk along a road three miles to the north of Fry’s. The manner of their deaths has not been released, nor has a motive.
Spiess was arrested Tuesday at Sandia Resort and Casino in Albuquerque. He initially told police he was homeless and didn’t have an ID but has otherwise not cooperated with authorities since his arrest, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Jail records indicate he has been charged with tampering with evidence and concealing his identity, along with the murders.
The Journal also reported that several items used to dump the bodies were consistent with items Spiess had bought at Walmart with Ray’s credit card.
“They were possibly all rooming together,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik told KOB4. “There was a lot of DNA evidence taken, a lot of video evidence, lots of physical evidence [at Ray’s home] that was tagged as evidence. So it’s a massive case, and there’s a lot of connections there.”
Members of Ray’s family told the Journal they were unaware that he was renting a room to Fry and did not know when the two had met.