By: Matt Papaycik
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (Scripps News West Palm Beach) — A Florida man is now in custody after his wife’s remains were discovered inside three suitcases floating in the Intracoastal Waterway.
William Lowe, 78, was arrested Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a dead body.
Police said the suitcases were found floating in the Intracoastal Waterway on July 21. Inside were the remains of a woman, who has been identified through dental records as Aydil Barbosa Fontes, 80.
A medical examiner said Fontes’ cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.
According to Lowe’s arrest report, the first suitcase was located on the west side of the Intracoastal and had a “human foot protruding through the zipper.” Inside were “human legs” and “several small landscaping rocks.”
On the outside of the suitcase was an airline barcode sticker with the name “Barbosa” on it.
The report said a second suitcase had a human torso “missing the head and the hands,” along with “small landscaping rocks.”
A third suitcase found on the east side of Intracoastal had a “human female pelvis” and more landscaping rocks inside.
One day later, on July 22, a tote bag was found in the water containing a “female human head” with a “single gunshot wound behind the woman’s ear with an exit wound behind the opposite ear,” the arrest report stated.
Police spoke to a witness who lives near the location of the third suitcase who said that, for several days prior to July 21, he saw a man in his 50s or 60s looking at the suitcase in the water, “approximately 5-6 times over a three-day period.”
Lowe’s arrest report said that on July 23, Delray Beach police investigators found blood on a metal dock ladder in the area where the third suitcase was located.
Three witnesses working on a roof in the area said they, too, had seen the suitcases in the water.
“They stated it was apparent, based on the odor, that there was some type of remains in the suitcase,” the report said, adding that the workers had seen a man in the area on July 21 looking at the suitcase.
Additional witnesses said they had seen a man on July 20 using a metal pole to “push or scrape something in the waterway.”
The arrest report stated that surveillance video showed Lowe climbing down the dock ladder just after 7 a.m. on July 20, then doing the same thing hours later, just before 4:15 p.m.
A Delray Beach police detective said that, on July 24, he noticed a gold Ford Taurus in the area of the crime scene. A search of the license plate showed the vehicle was registered to Lowe.
Authorities took Lowe to the Delray Beach Police Department on July 31 for questioning, where he said he was married to Fontes, adding that she had been in Brazil for “about 3 weeks.”
When police asked Lowe when he had last spoken to Fontes, he replied, “I don’t know.”
The report said police showed Lowe a photo of the suitcases found in water. Lowe said he had never seen them before, and he didn’t know why his wife’s name was on the airline barcode sticker.
Police executed a search warrant at Lowe’s Delray Beach apartment on July 31.
“Blood was detected in the master bath shower drain as well as the tub of the second bathroom,” the arrest report stated, along with “drag marks” in the living room, hallway, and master bathroom, as well as “large amounts of blood” in the living room, dining room, and master bathroom, and cleaning supplies with “some containing blood spatter.”
A 9mm handgun was found in a desk drawer.
Days later, on Aug. 2, police searched a storage unit that Lowe had. Inside was a “Ryobi chainsaw that appeared to have blood on the blade, chain and housing,” along with “what appeared to be bone matter, flesh and human hair in the housing of the saw.”
In court Thursday, Lowe entered a not-guilty plea and was ordered to be held without bond.
Lowe’s attorney, Marc Shiner, described his client as a successful business owner and “decorated war veteran” who has no criminal record.
“The man who we know is not the man who is accused in the police report,” Shiner said.
This story was originally published by Scripps News West Palm Beach, an E.W. Scripps Company.