Just before 3 PM Saturday, Mac Mays was checking the house he owns on the 700 block of Breckenridge Street in Owensboro. The house has been vacant for a year.
"And I saw some wood and cardboard laying behind the garage, and went to look at it. I thought, ah man, what is this? It looked like it was an animal that had been skinned or something, and after moving a piece of the wood, I could see that it was a human body,” Mays said.
Mays called the police, who identified the man as 30-year-old Jose Gomez. Police believe Gomez had been dead for several days. Investigation led detectives to believe his death came by being stuck with a piece of wood. His body was covered in a tarp.
"It’s too close to home. I mean I have kids, it's really too close to home, and it's not something you expect to see,” Christine Vickers said. Vickers’ backyard is connected to the backyard Gomez was found in, but she said she and her husband hadn’t noticed anything strange in the last few days.
Vickers said Gomez could always be seen rolling around the neighborhood in his wheelchair, and was always friendly up until recently.
"We noticed we haven't seen him in a little while, rolling around, even on the warm days that we've had. He's usually out and about, and we haven't seen him out and about,” Vickers said.
Police say Gomez lived in 731 Breckenridge with his mother Volanda Gomez and her boyfriend Salvador Avila-Navarrete. Now both sit in jail.
Yolanda Gomez is charged with tampering with evidence, and Avila-navarrete faces the same charge, along with first-degree manslaughter.
"Yeah I’m very shocked to hear something about somebody's mother being involved in their death. Very shocked, especially around here,” said Travis Glenn, who lives down the street.
"That is heart-breaking. I mean, I’m a mother of four children. That's just not something you can imagine, and its just… wow,” Vickers said.
Police will continue to investigate, neighbors will attempt to move on with their lives, and Mac Mays will try to recover from a mental image that would be haunting to most.
“To actually see a human body, and deceased, totally unclothed, you know, and covered up, I mean, kind of like the shocker for the whole day,” Mays said.
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