Florida suitcase murder: Husband used chainsaw to dismember wife's body found in bags off coast, police say

Credit: Delray beach Police

Police arrested the husband of a woman whose remains were found in five bags in South Florida last week. 

During a Thursday morning news conference, Delray Beach Police said they arrested William Lowe for murdering his 80-year-old wife Aydil Barbosa Fontes.

Fontes, who was found on July 21 after someone found human remains in a suitcase in the Intracoastal waterway, was reportedly shot in the head by Lowe. 

On the same day, two other suitcases with human remains were found in the same area. 

The next day, detectives said two additional bags were found in the Intracoastal waterway. 

During the investigation, multiple witnesses told detectives about a vehicle and person who was seen in the area multiple times before the suitcases were found. 

Video surveillance in the area captured Lowe's vehicle tag, showing that Barbosa lived there. Detectives also found an airline scan code within one of the suitcases that came back to a "Barbosa Ontes / A" with the same address as Lowe's tag. 

Detectives also discovered a storage unit containing a chainsaw that they believed Lowe used. 

Inside Fontes' home, detectives said there was blood splatter inside the apartment. 

Lowe was arrested for first-degree murder and improper dismemberment of a human body. 

The suitcases  

A witness reported to Delray Beach Police that they found a suitcase located on the west side of the intra-coastal waterway that he believed contained human remains, an arrest affidavit states. Detective said they saw a human foot protruding through the zipper. Upon opening the bag, they said they found human legs. 

About one hour later, a second witness told police they found a suitcase on the rocks that contained human remains. In this suitcase, detectives said they found a human torso along with small landscaping rocks in the suitcase. 

The second witness told detectives that his friend was on a boat in the area and found a third suitcase — on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway, an affidavit shows. Detectives said this suitcase contained a human female pelvis. 

Later that day a multi-agency marine operation began with the coast guard finding a fourth bag. The "Tote" type bag contained a female human head that had a gunshot wound behind the ear. A fourth bag described as a purse was found containing an ashtray, an arrest affidavit shows.

Witnesses detail what they saw days before

A couple who live near the crime scene told detectives they saw a white male looking into the intra-coastal waterway several days before July 21. They said he appeared to be looking for the suitcase. He was seen five to six times before July 21 by the couple over a three-day period. 

When confronted by the couple, the man, later identified as Lowe said he was "waiting for the big boat to come into the harbor."

Another group of witnesses who were working on a roof at a property next to where the third suitcase was found said they saw the same white male standing on the seawall looking at the suitcase before he got into his car and left the area. 

The days leading up to Lowe's arrest

On July 24, a detective saw a gold Ford Taurus in the area of the crime scene that was registered to Lowe. His address was less than 0.1 miles from where the third suitcase was found. Upon further research, detectives discovered that Barbosa shared the same address as Lowe. A search warrant was issued for Lowe who admitted his wife was Barbosa. 

When asked about Barbosa's whereabouts, he told detectives she was in Brazil for the last three weeks. 

A search of Lowe's home

When detectives searched Lowe's home they found blood spatter throughout the living room, dining room, hallway, both bathrooms, and master bedroom of the home. Drag marks were observed throughout the home, arrest records state. Cleaning supplies containing blood spatter were also found in the home. 

As detectives searched the home, they said Lowe attempted to reenter through a back window. He was stopped and said he was "just trying to get his phone and the keys to his storage unit." 

On July 31, Lowe's neighbor told detectives she saw him putting a plastic container tote box into his car and hadn't seen Barbosa in weeks, arrest records state. 

Another neighbor said she saw what she thought was a "trail of soup" leading from Lowe's apartment upstairs to his sister's apartment that he frequented. 

The search of his sister's apartment unveiled a black cover for a chainsaw along with several bottles of cleaning supplies, detectives said. 

On August 2, detectives searched Lowe's storage unit which contained a bloodied chainsaw with human hair on the saw. 

An arrest warrant was issued for Lowe who appeared in court Thursday and was denied bond.