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Skeletal remains found in backyard barrel; homeowner sought

By Vivian Kuo, CNN
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Remains found in backyard barrel
  • A Crime Stoppers tip led police to look for a body in a backyard barrel
  • Harris County Sheriff's investigators are searching for the homeowner
  • He previously served 17 in prison after being convicted in a double murder

(CNN) -- Police in Texas are looking for a convicted murderer after a tip led them to a body in his back yard.

Last week, Harris County Sheriff's Office investigators received a Crime Stoppers tip about a body being in a barrel at a northwest Houston address. The homeowner, Dennis Anderson, 64, was not home when police arrived but a roommate allowed them to check the property.

Court documents say an old, rusted barrel with black paint on it was found and pried open.

"Upon opening the barrel, investigators discovered the skeletal remains of an unknown person," a statement from the Harris County Sheriff's Office says.

The decaying body was that of a female, and it had been wrapped in a bed sheet and trash bags and was covered in dirt, the documents say. The legs had been tied together by what appeared to be weed trimmer line that also was tied to the neck of the victim.

Authorities examining the barrel said it appeared to have been in place for some time, and noted that the bolts on top were rusty. The victim had been dead for several months, the documents say.

The remains were taken to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences for identification and to try to find the cause of death.

While no charges have been filed against the homeowner, authorities are now searching for him.

"Mr. Anderson is only wanted for questioning at this time," said Christina Garza of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Michelle Lyons of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Anderson was sentenced to life in prison for committing a double murder in 1972, but was paroled after serving 17 years. He also had concurrent sentences for theft and arson, Lyons said.

More recently, he was sentenced to 180 days in prison for theft, and was held from July 12 to August 13 of this year.

According to court documents, the tipster who led police to the body said Anderson had told him he had strangled a person and placed the body in the barrel. The informant also said Anderson had told him he takes the barrel with him when he moves from state to state.