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East County Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 2 months ago

UPDATE: Body in trash can identified, Bradenton woman charged with abuse of a dead human body

Manatee County Sheriff's Office detectives arrest Bradenton's Michelle Haney, 48, and charge her with abuse of a dead human body after the body of 40-year-old Christopher Leonard was found in a trash can.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Manatee County Sheriff's Office detectives have positively identified the victim found dead inside a trash can on Tuesday in the Windmill Manor Mobile Home Park in East County as Jon Christopher Leonard, 40.

Detectives have arrested Michelle Haney, 48, and she has been charged with abuse of a dead human body. A Manatee County Sheriff's Office release said Haney and Leonard were living together at 5023 Windmill Manor Ave., Bradenton.

The release said Haney told detectives she had found Leonard dead inside their residence in July but instead of calling law enforcement, she stored his body in a closet, and then three weeks later put his body inside a trash can, sealed it and took it to a neighbor. She told the neighbor, who was unaware of what was inside, that she would be back to pick it up.

Haney told detectives, according to the release, that she stored the body so she could continue to collect his Social Security benefits. The release said additional charges are pending.

The cause of Leonard's death has not been determined. An autopsy was performed Wednesday and results are pending.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies were called to the neighbor's home Tuesday at 12:38 p.m. after the decomposing body was found in the trash can.

The neighbor called the Sheriff's Office after finding the body. The man told deputies he thought the sealed trash can contained the neighbor's personal items and he was waiting for it to be picked up.

The man neighbor decided to open the container and quickly noticed a foul smell, according to a Sheriff's Office report. The man then found Leonard's in an advanced stage of decomposition.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 747-3011.


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