Human remains found in barrel in N. Harris County

Dennis Anderson (left) has been found dead in Florida. His roomate, Edward Hanson, (right) showed us where the barrel was located.

October 25, 2010 4:36:28 PM PDT
A terrifying discovery in the backyard of a home in northwest Harris County -- a woman's body, bound and stuffed inside a barrel. Now investigators are asking for help finding the man who owns the property. We're learning disturbing details about the condition the body was in when it was found, and the criminal history of the man investigators are now looking for.

The man who lives with the suspect thought initially that this was a pre-Halloween prank. Investigators say it was anything but after they found the badly decomposed remains of a woman on the side of this house in the 7500 block of Split Oak Court.

"I had just moved in, so it's somewhat disconcerting," said roommate Ed Hanson.

Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip, deputies last week searched the property, looking for a barrel which they were told contained a body. The tipster said property owner Dennis Anderson confessed to killing the person inside. Hanson, who also lives at Anderson's home, gave investigators permission to search.

"Speechless. That something like this happens is something you read about in the newspaper, but never happens to you," Hanson said.

Deputies opened the rusty barrel. Hanson says he got a brief glimpse of what was inside, what he says appeared on top just to be peat moss.

"The level was down to midway, so there was significant decomposition; there wasn't much left," said Hanson.

According to court documents, the barrel appeared to be old and rusted and had some black paint on it. The bolts at the top of the barrel also appeared to be rusty. Dirt was placed inside the barrel on top of the female body. The body was wrapped in a bed sheet, and then two black trash bags were wrapped around there. Investigators stated, "the legs had been tied together utilizing what appeared to be weed eater line that was also tied around the neck of the unknown victim."

According to investigators, the body appeared to have been decaying for several months.

Hanson says he just moved in here two weeks ago after finding the room here for rent through craigslist.org. Anderson was his landlord and roommate. Hanson describes Anderson as straightforward, yet somewhat distant.

"We were able to talk and seems like a nice guy," said Hanson.

He hasn't seen Anderson since last Tuesday. He doesn't think he'll ever see him again.

The remains have been sent to forensics for identification and a cause of death.

Authorities are looking for Anderson so they can question him about the body. Anderson, 64, has been charged with tampering with a corpse. Bail has been set at $50,000.

Jason Clark of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed that Anderson has been convicted twice before on murder charges -- once in 1972, and again in 1973. Both times he was sentenced to life in prison. He served nearly 17 years before being paroled.

State parole officials say Anderson was released in part because he earned an Associate's degree, 60 hours towards a Bachelor's degree and because he helped hold off other offenders who were attacking prison personnel early on in his incarceration during a prison riot.

We've also learned that Anderson has an arson conviction and two theft convictions, one of which was as recent as this past July when he served less than a month in custody.

Investigators want to find and arrest Anderson. If you help you can qualify for a reward through Crime Stoppers of up to $5,000. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477 or the Harris County Sheriff's Office homicide division at 713-967-5810.


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