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Suspect Arrested In Arizona After Man Doesn't Pick Up Mail for One Year, Bone Fragments Found in Fire Pit

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Source: Yavapai Sheriff’s Office

May 6 2023, Published 9:09 a.m. ET

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An Arizona man was arrested for murder after he was found living on the rural property of a man who hadn’t picked up his mail, authorities said.

According to the Yavapai Sheriff’s Office, last month, the post office in Ashfork contacted deputies to report John McCabe, 67, hadn’t been seen in over a year and his mail had piled up.

Deputies conducting a wellbeing check on the missing man encountered Terry Welfenberg, 76, on McCabe’s property.

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“According to deputies Welfenberg stated that McCabe left approximately two years ago but could not provide a specific date,” the sheriff’s office said. “The suspect also told deputies that he broke into the victim’s home, had stolen a few firearms that were left behind, and had been living in the victim’s home for a while.”

Deputies noted Welfenberg was displaying odd behavior and they contacted detectives and the Criminal Investigations Bureau for assistance.

The sheriff’s office said they decided to search the property for the victim’s remains, and they arrested Welfenberg and charged him with burglary and theft of firearms.

“While searching the property, a volunteer noticed what appeared to be a skull fragment in the fire pit near the trailer,” the sheriff’s office said, noting detectives also found several other human bones in the area.

A second search was launched days later, and detectives found McCabe’s medical ID bracelet and wallet as well as more bone fragments in the fire pit.

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“What could have been a simple welfare check on a man who may have simply left the area, was only discovered to be something far more nefarious because of the instincts of the responding deputies and the tenacity of the CIB detectives,” Sheriff David Rhodes said. “Now a suspected murderer is in custody and there can be justice for a man whose tragic death may never have been discovered.”

Additional charges are pending, the sheriff’s office said.

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