Crime

Long Beach woman, accused of stuffing man's body in trash, has died

By WESLEY MULLER

wmuller@sunherald.com

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GULFPORT -- A Long Beach woman accused of cutting a pacemaker out of her dead boyfriend's chest and stuffing his body into a trash can in October died Thursday.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said Christy Lee Zarrella, 63, died of natural causes at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.

Zarrella was in police custody in the death of 87-year-old Edward A. Miller, whose decomposing remains were found Oct. 22 in a trash can outside his home on South Seal Avenue.

Officers later arrested Zarrella on felony charges of desecration of a corpse and tampering with evidence, as well as a misdemeanor charge of failure to report a death. She pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge in November and was being held on bonds of $500,000 on the two felonies.

According to affidavits, Zarrella cut out Miller's pacemaker, put is body in a trash can and tried to burn it.

The trash can was partially melted, and several empty bleach bottles were found inside it, indicating an attempt to mask the smell of decay, detectives said at the time.

Miller had been missing for two weeks, and Zarrella had recently moved in with him. She told police she panicked after he had died Oct. 5 of natural causes. Neighbors told officers she had recently sold his belongings at an estate sale, a police affidavit said.

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