Man who hid girlfriend's body in trunk faces murder charge, deputies say
Man being held without bond in Lake County Jail, deputies say
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Authorities are conducting a death investigation after the body of a missing and endangered woman was found in the trunk of a vehicle that was used to flee from deputies Thursday, the Lake County Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies said William Roberts, 56, was arrested Thursday after he fled from deputies in both Volusia and Lake counties.
Lake County deputies were notified of a vehicle that fled from Volusia County deputies in the DeLand area into Lake County, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said the vehicle fit the description of a vehicle in a bulletin for missing and endangered persons released earlier this week.
After deputies used stop sticks to blow out the tires of the vehicle, the vehicle came to a stop in the Royal Trails subdivision, and Roberts fled on foot, deputies said.
Deputies used a K-9 unit to locate Roberts and take him into custody, officials said.
The body of Elizabeth Hellstrom, 55, was later found in the trunk of the vehicle that Roberts had used to flee from deputies, after deputies smelled the odor of a decomposing body, authorities said.
Roberts and Hellstrom, who were believed to be in a relationship, were both reported missing and endangered Wednesday by the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
The couple was reported missing and endangered after Roberts' friend called authorities to report that Roberts said Hellstrom was dead Tuesday night after the pair had gotten into an argument, according to a report.
Roberts' friend told authorities that Hellstrom was unresponsive and that Roberts tried to bring her back after he found 30 prescription pills missing but "nothing worked," the report said.
The friend told deputies that Roberts said he put Hellstrom in the trunk and was going to the woods "to eat some pills so he could go with her," according to the report.
Roberts also said he had a propane tank that he planned to turn on while he lay next to her, the friend told deputies.
After deputies were notified of the incident, they began searching for the couple but were unsuccessful, which is when they sent out the missing persons bulletin.
When Hellstrom's body was found Thursday, it showed signs of trauma, and one ear was nearly ripped off, according to the report.
Also on Thursday, Roberts was booked into the Lake County Jail, where he is being held without bail.
Roberts was initially facing charges of fleeing and eluding and storage, preservation and transportation of human remains, deputies said.
Deputies said that, from 1979 to 2011, Roberts faced six charges of failure to appear and had multiple felonies, including a previous arrest for murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.
Authorities said that after the completed autopsy on Friday revealed blunt trauma to Hellstrom's body and signs of strangulation, Roberts was additionally charged with second-degree murder.
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