DC man tells police he decapitated handyman, left remains in yard

WASHINGTON — A 32-year-old man in Washington, D.C., told police that he beheaded a handyman and cut off his arms before disposing of some of his remains in the backyard of his residence, authorities said.

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According to court documents filed on Thursday, police said that Lavaughn Barnes confessed to putting the victim’s head, arms and personal documents in a trash bag, The Washington Post reported. Prosecutors said the bag was picked up by city sanitation workers and taken to a landfill, according to the newspaper.

On Feb. 3, officers with the Metropolitan Police Department discovered the rest of the human remains in the yard behind a duplex in the Brookland neighborhood in the northeast section of the city. Barnes lived in the basement, according to the Post.

According to police, Barnes was arrested on Wednesday in connection to the death of Abdulio Arias-Lopez, whose remains were found in the bag and in the yard, WJLA-TV reported. He was charged with second-degree murder, according to the television station.

According to court documents, Arias-Lopez was showing Barnes paint he was intending to use in the duplex’s kitchen. When Arias-Lopez walked away, Barnes allegedly followed him and used a stun gun to his back, WJLA reported.

Documents state that Barnes confessed to stabbing Arias-Lopez twice before taking his body to the basement, according to the television station. Barnes then allegedly said he went to a hardware store to buy an ax, which he used to dismember the handyman.

Police said the medical examiner has not determined a cause of death, but there is evidence that the victim had stab wounds and had been shot, the Post reported. Police said the remains they had found were skeletal and “mummified,” according to the newspaper.

Forestry experts estimated that Arias-Lopez’s remains had been at the residence since November.

Police said the remains were found after Barnes’ sister told him to clean up the bamboo overgrowth in the yard on Feb. 3, the Post reported. According to court documents, Barnes told his sister he had found human remains and both of them called police, the newspaper reported.

Police conducted a search warrant on the property and continued their investigation, but Barnes allegedly called authorities on Wednesday and confessed to the slaying, WRC-TV reported.

Authorities using cadaver dogs found evidence of blood in the basement where Barnes lived, as well as on the back door of the basement and the back porch of the duplex, the Post reported.

Police said they also found a machete, a large fixed-blade knife, four folding knives, brass knuckles, a stun gun, a drain lid, kitchen knives and cleaning agents.

At a hearing Thursday in D.C. Superior Court, Barnes’ attorney, Anthony Matthews, argued police had “no probable cause” to charge his client, the Post reported. He also questioned the reliability of his statements to detectives, calling them “suspect at best.”

But Magistrate Judge Renee Raymond ordered Barnes detained pending a hearing on March 29.

“This appears incredibly random,” Raymond said. “The decedent just happened to be there. The extra step of beheading the decedent and removing his limbs -- for no reason that Mr. Barnes can himself point to — scream out that there is no condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the safety of the community.”