Two charged with murder after body found wrapped in bags in basement

Published: Sep. 7, 2010 at 6:34 PM EDT|Updated: Feb. 16, 2011 at 1:46 PM EST
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1404 Arling Avenue
1404 Arling Avenue

Louisville, KY - Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville Metro Police have charged a couple with murdering a man they were supposed to be caring for so they could cash in on his disability checks. The decomposing body of the victim was found wrapped up in plastic and a blanket in the basement.

Police got a call late Sept. 6 from someone who had just met the couple a few days earlier. That person suspected someone was dead inside the house at 1404 Arling Avenue near Iroquois High School.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Sam Weakley has identified the victim as 53-year-old Jeffrey Bishop, who had just moved to the house a few weeks ago. Weakley says the cause of death was strangulation.

According to LMPD, 48-year-old Dennis Mitchell Hall and his girlfriend, 42-year-old Heather Lynn Baringer, murdered Bishop sometime in late August, and were using his bank account and cashing his disability checks.

Homicide detectives say the three were renting a house together and had an agreement that Hall and Baringer would run errands for the victim.

LMPD officers reported smelling a strong odor inside the home when they arrived. According to the arrest report, Hall admitted he strangled the Bishop and led them to his decomposing body in the basement.

LMPD Homicide Commander Lt. Barry Wilkerson said the three argued before Bishop was killed.

"The argument took place," Wilkerson said. "He was murdered at that point and then kind of hidden in the basement, wrapped up in bags and the carpet and hidden in the basement of the home."

Neighbors Karen Cooper and Claudia Titus tell WAVE 3 News they knew something strange was going on in the house because the couple was constantly causing trouble.

"They was up all hours of the day and night, running out in the streets, hollering and carrying on, "Titus remembered.

Cooper told us she was ready to call police because she thought the couple was running a drug operation.

"I had full intentions of making sure they didn't stay here another month,one way or another," she said.

The neighbors say it all makes sense now, after finding out a decomposing body was inside the home.

"They were always sitting outside in those two chairs with the doors all open," Titus remembered of Baringer and Hall. "No matter how hot it was and I wondered why?"

Police say the argument was over money.

Baringer and Hall are charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence, criminal possession of a forged instrument and possession of drug paraphernalia. They are being held at Louisville Metro Corrections while awaiting arraignment.

Both have served time in prison, mostly for drug and theft charges. Hall is also a sex offender. Police say crack pipes were found inside the home.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.