A LEG found in a bay that online sleuths wildly claimed was fugitive Brian Laundrie's has been identified as belonging to a woman who was “dismembered”.
Robert Kessler, of Lutz, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and abuse of a body.
Fishermen in McKay Bay, Tampa, found a leg on November 11 – which cops later identified as belonging to Stephanie Crone-Overholts.
Officers discovered a tattoo on the lower right calf that showed three hearts and displayed the names Sean, Greg, and Zach.
Police say that Stephanie, of Pennsylvania, had been staying with Kessler at his home when she vanished, Fox13 reports.
Kessler, 69, told cops that he met Stephanie at a restaurant and she apparently told him that she was living in her car. Their exact relationship remains unknown.
Blood was found inside the woman’s vehicle on November 16 – just two days after police quizzed Kessler in his home.
Cops said a witness claimed they saw someone “throwing items” into a bay at the time of Stephanie’s disappearance.
Cops do not know when the leg was dumped into the bay.
Stacy Arruda, a retired Tampa FBI agent, told Fox13 that cops will try to “recreate Stephanie’s pattern of life” before she went missing.
An angler was fishing when he suddenly saw a lump that he thought looked like a catfish.
He told Fox13: “As it gets closer to me, I start realizing it looks more like a human leg.”
Following the discovery, online sleuths bizarrely speculated that the leg could've belonged to Laundrie. There was never any evidence to support these baseless claims.
A Facebook user wrote: "Oh my, wonder if it's Brian's."
Another commented: “Brian Laundrie body parts don’t be surprised.”
Some social media users were not convinced that the body part belonged to Laundrie after learning about the tattoo.
One said: “A leg was found… no it’s not Brian.”
While another posted: “I’m pretty sure it was a woman’s leg (I’m assuming). There was a tattoo with hearts and three names in the hearts.”
A Facebook user added: “I don’t really see a way that that is his leg unless someone literally disembodied him and dragged him to Tampa Bay.”
Laundrie was reported missing on September 17 – days after he allegedly told his parents that he was going for a hike in Florida’s snake-infested Carlton Reserve.
An extensive manhunt was launched as cops scoured the wilderness before partial remains were discovered on October 20.
Investigators used Laundrie's dental records to positively identify the remains but an initial autopsy came back inconclusive, and the bones were sent to an anthropologist for further tests.
Meanwhile, web sleuths speculated that Laundrie may have been eaten as “alligator bones” were apparently found near where the remains were found.
Coroners on November 23 ruled that Laundrie died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
The Laundrie family lawyer Steven Bertolino said: "Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families."
Laundrie was named as a person of interest in Gabby Petito’s murder before his remains were positively identified.
Forensics expert Jennifer Shen told The Sun that she thinks there’s enough evidence to close the murder case after Laundrie’s autopsy results were published.
She said: “While we will have to wait for the completion of the investigation, which will likely include attempts to examine and decipher the notebook, the circumstances seem pretty clear, and not that unusual.
"There is no indication at this time there are other individuals involved."
And, former veteran NYPD homicide detective Tom Joyce also feels Gabby's murder case will be closed, due to the exceptional circumstances.
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