"We all go through life and think some things are stranger than fiction," St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain Jr. said yesterday. "And this fits that description."
The woman has not been identified, but she told police she is the man's daughter. Police think the 83-year-old man, who also has not been identified, died of natural causes. The coroner is working to verify that part of the women's story.
Instead of reporting the death, the woman left his body on a bed at the apartment in Slidell, a suburb about 30 miles east of New Orleans. As it began to decompose, the woman told police she amputated the hands and placed them in a box in her freezer. She moved the rest of the body to a 160-quart ice chest, where much of it began to turn into liquid.
The apartment conditions were deplorable, with stifling heat and "beyond what human beings should live in," the sheriff said.
The Social Security check was believed to be the woman's only income, Strain said.
No charges have been filed. The woman was taken for a mental evaluation, and her roommate was checked out and released.
Investigators are waiting on a coroner's report before deciding what to do next.
"Then we'll see if this is a horrible crime or is it a devastating tragedy where that woman felt that was the only course available," Strain said.