By Rich Pollack

A 78-year-old Delray Beach man has been charged with fatally shooting his 80-year-old wife last month and then placing pieces of her dismembered body into suitcases and bags before pushing them into the Intracoastal Waterway close to his Venetian Drive home.

In court documents, Delray Beach detectives say evidence led them to believe that William Lowe Jr. killed his wife, Aydil Barbosa Fontes with a single gunshot behind her ear and then used a chainsaw to carve up her body.

12176319278?profile=RESIZE_180x18012176319855?profile=RESIZE_180x180In a charging document released Thursday after Lowe made an initial court appearance, investigators wrote that witnesses had seen him several times at a boat dock near where two of the suitcases were found.

Video surveillance also indicated that someone matching Lowe’s description was seen in the area climbing down a dock ladder carrying a Cheesecake Factory bag, which he no longer held after climbing back up the ladder.

In addition, investigators armed with a search warrant found evidence of blood splatters throughout the apartment Lowe shared with his wife. A chainsaw was later located in a storage unit owned by Lowe. Police also found a 9mm firearm in the apartment.

When detectives asked Lowe where his wife was, he told them she was in Brazil, they wrote in the court records.

During a news conference soon after Lowe appeared in court Aug. 3, lead detective Mike Liberta said that investigators have not determined a motive for the homicide, nor did they receive any information from Lowe, who requested an attorney soon after being charged.

“The defendant obtained counsel and did not give a statement,” Liberta said.

While investigators had been asking the community for help in identifying the woman whose body was found in suitcases and bags, Liberta said they focused on Lowe as a suspect first, before they were able to identify Barbosa Fontes as the victim.

Liberta and Police Chief Russ Mager said that information from residents who lived near where two of the suitcases were first discovered was critical to them solving the homicide.

“We want to recognize and thank the community for the assistance in providing vital information that was greatly beneficial in the outcome of this investigation,” Mager said.

Two days after the bags were found, witnesses told police that they saw a man in his 50s or 60s looking at the suitcases in the Intracoastal Waterway five or six times over a three-day period. Other witnesses later told investigators they saw a man with a similar description using a brush on a metal pole trying to push something in the water.

Detectives said they first identified Lowe as a possible suspect after one of the investigators took a photo of a tag from a car that had been seen in the area near where the bags were found. The tag came back to Lowe and to his address, which was a tenth of a mile from where two suitcases were found.

12176320481?profile=RESIZE_710x                           The condo building at 315 Venetian Drive in coastal Delray Beach where police say the murder took place. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

Lowe was brought to the police department to give a DNA sample, while at the same time investigators armed with a warrant searched his home. When Lowe was done, he returned home while police were still doing their search. He tried to get into the home through a back window but was stopped by investigators. He told them he wanted to get his phone and the key to his storage locker, the same locker where the chainsaw would later be found.

Knowing that Lowe and Barbosa Fontes shared the apartment and that she hadn’t been seen by neighbors for weeks, investigators were able to then confirm her identity using dental records and DNA.

Liberta, who has been with the Delray Beach Police Department for 10 years and has been a detective for four years, said the nature of the crime — with the victim’s body dismembered — made this case particularly disturbing.

“This is probably the worst I’ve seen,” he said.

Lowe has been charged with first degree murder and abuse of a dead body and was being held without bond in the Palm Beach County Jail.

 

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