EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSUSPECT DESCRIBED AS "HAPPY"
from Eyewitness News Online
Suspect's Co-workers React To News Of Gruesome Murder; Woman's Remains Still Missing
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jan. 20, 2012 10:14 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 20, 2012 10:33 PM EST
Institute , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Police are combing through two states for evidence in a gruesome murder-suicide.
Murder suspect Nathaniel Roy Lawton, 54, allegedly committed suicide while deputies were at his door to serve a search warrant.
They had gone to Lawton's Barron Drive apartment to look for evidence after hearing he had killed a woman, and cut her to pieces with a hacksaw.
Deputies now have reason to believe that the body parts were strewn across West Virginia and Ohio. Investigators spent most of Friday searching for answers in a likely crime of passion that's shaken everyone who knows the couple to their core.
A murder, a dismemberment, and a suicide...a chain of events that's left even the most veteran police in shock.
"This is one of the worst cases we've seen," explained Chief Deputy John Rutherford of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office. "We have a task in front of us now to try and locate the rest of the remains," he said in a news conference on Friday.
Deputies say Lawton killed his girlfriend, Carol Ann Rhim, 53, sometime on Tuesday, then dismembered her body in the bathtub of their Institute apartment.
An informant went to police, and deputies soon learned that Lawton bought a hacksaw and tarp from Advance Auto Parts in Dunbar.
Armed with a search warrant, they closed in, but deputies say Lawton shot himself in the head as they knocked on his door Thursday night.
"He just was extremely jealous. Obsessed with her," explained her brother, Teddy Rhim. Sitting in shock after hearing the news, he is unable to cope with the horrific way his sister was murdered.
"Mad comes first, helpless...to the point where she was probably calling out for me for help," he told Eyewitness News.
"This was a total shock," said Wayne Gherke who worked with Lawton for over a decade. Lawton worked for nearly 20 years as a custodian at the mail processing plant at Southridge in South Charleston.
He was described as a "gentle giant," and a man with no criminal history. Co-workers said he was a "happy" person.
"It's like the sun rising in the west, and setting in the east. Totally out of character for what happened," said Gherke.
Deputies found Rhim's head and hands in the trunk of Lawton's car, which they believe was an attempt to conceal her identity if the rest of her remains were discovered.
"What type of person, against someone they love goes out and shops for tarp, saw, and have the conscience to get an extra blade to hide what they've done?" said Rhim's brother.
Lawton's 87-year-old mother also lived in the apartment, but she is nearly comatose and unable to provide police with any information. Lawton left a hastily written note for police on how to care for her, but that was all it said.
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