Squatters who broke into the home of an elderly woman who had been dead since 2018, allegedly dismembered the victim's body and buried her remains in the backyard before proceeding to "drain her finances" and sell off her belongings including her car.

Lucille Payne, 82, reportedly died alone in the summer of 2018 in her home in 8300 block of Shore Breeze Drive, northwest Las Vegas. However, her death remained unnoticed for some time as she lived alone in her residence, and had no close friends or family. In addition to this, nearly all of her bills were also set to auto-pay, Law & Crime reported.

Squatters, who were unaware of Payne's death, allegedly broke into her home earlier this year. The squatters, whose names have not been made public, reportedly found Payne's body "sitting in a chair." The group shortly decided to “cut up her mummified body” and bury the pieces under a dirt patch in the backyard of the property.

The squatters then began leaching from the dead woman’s life and trying to profit from whatever she left behind in her home, even selling off her car.

“After finding her, the decision was made between several people that they were going to dismember her body and bury her and then basically drain her finances and sell off her belongings, fraudulently,” Lieutenant Ray Spencer, Metro Police Department Homicide, said.

The incident reportedly came to light after officers received an anonymous tip saying that there was a dead body at Payne’s address. Following this, law enforcement responded to the scene and found the elderly woman's remains in a shallow grave behind her home in April.

The Clark County Coroner’s Office initially concluded that Payne’s death was a homicide. However, an autopsy later determined that Payne had been dead for years before her body was discovered in her backyard. However, the precise cause of her death currently remains undetermined, according to NBC News.

According to Payne’s neighbors, the house had reportedly appeared empty for years until early 2020.

“Next door neighbors were able to confirm for us that they had heard digging over the previous couple of weeks,” Spencer said.

The squatters are reportedly being charged for improper burial and also with fraud for selling items that they did not own.

The investigation into the incident reportedly remains open. Meanwhile, the officers are also searching for Payne's next of kin.

Elderly Woman
This is a representational image. PIXABAY

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