Woman’s body found in pickup camper

By Sharna Johnson and Liliana Castillo

Police say they suspect a body found in Clovis is that of a missing Roswell woman.

The body was discovered Wednesday night in the back of a pickup truck towed Monday to a Clovis wrecking yard.

Chaves County Sheriff James Coon said the body was discovered by his deputies at the Trans-Matic wrecking yard on First Street, when they served a search warrant.

Coon said the vehicle, which belonged to the victim, was towed to Clovis after the victim’s boyfriend was arrested on an outstanding warrant for a probation violation. He was arrested Monday in a traffic stop by Parmer County sheriff’s deputies, he said.

The 42-year-old boyfriend remains in custody in the Parmer County Detention Center on the probation violation and has been interviewed, but has not been charged in connection with the homicide, Coon said.

Coon said police believe the body is that of a Roswell woman in her 60s who was reported missing Tuesday by a coworker.

“It’s a good hunch that’s her, but we’re not saying (for sure until we have a positive identification),” Coon said Thursday afternoon.

The coworker said Leatha Tidwell had not been seen or heard from since Friday when she left work early. Police said the coworker told them the absence was uncharacteristic and that foul play was suspected.

Deputies learned Tidwell’s boyfriend had been seen driving her 1998 extended cab Chevrolet pickup. Police interviewed him in Farwell, then obtained a search warrant for the truck.

Coon said the odor of decay was noticeably around the truck. The body was discovered in the truck’s camper.

“They said they could smell the odors of a decaying something in the back, then we showed up last night and found her in the back of the pickup under a bunch of boxes,” he said.

Tim Thompson, a driver with Trans-Matic Wrecker Service, towed the pickup truck from Parmer County.

He said at 6 p.m. Wednesday Chaves County deputies came to the business with a search warrant for the truck.

“It was an every day routine type tow,” said Kenneth Workheiser, owner of Trans-Matic.

“You could definitely smell it,” Thompson said. “We never expected to find a body in there.”

Workheiser said employees of Trans-Matic don’t search vehicles when they are towed.

Workheiser and Thompson stayed at the business until 3 a.m. to be available to the deputies, who were on scene.

They said deputies left the business about 10 a.m. Thursday.

Coon said the body was transported to the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque.

The pickup truck was taken to the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office for further processing.