A man who police say killed and dismembered his own mom and stepdad in the normally quiet Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, was charged with the gruesome double murder, but records show that 47-year-old Frederick Harris III showed serious signs of violent mental illness.
The man’s sister, Angela Harris, called police at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, telling them she had not heard from her 73-year-old mother, Olivia Gilbert, or her mom’s husband, Lamar Gilbert, 76, for three days. Concerned, she asked police to visit the couple’s home and check on them.
She accompanied them to the home where everything appeared “in order” from the outside. Because the officers said they had no legal basis to enter the house, Angela Harris herself broke down a back door and invited the police into the home.
Inside, behind a locked bedroom door, they found Angela’s brother, seemingly catatonic.
“It was immediately apparent a body was lying under the covers,” investigators said in a police document. “Officers pulled the covers back to discover Frederick Harris III lying on the bed unresponsive.”
Police then got a judge to write them a search warrant for the house and what they found was horrifying.
In the garage were several large garbage cans. Evidence later showed that Frederick Harris III had purchased three of the garbage cans at a Home Depot on Monday — then bought another one, with wheels this time, from second Home Depot store on Tuesday.
The receipt for the fourth garbage can showed that Harris bought it less than two hours before police searched the house and found the gruesome contents of the garbage cans.
One can contained a plastic bag with two severed heads — belonging to Lamar and Olivia Gilbert. Other cans were stuffed with the elderly couple’s limbs. As of Thursday morning, police still had not discovered all of the victims’ body parts. Olivia Gilbert’s entire torso remains missing.
Police say that Harris III was deeply troubled and showed signs of mental illness in the last few years. He had previously been living with his biological father before moving in with his mom and stepdad, but his biological dad kicked Frederick out after the man tried to choke him to death.
Harris had received treatment for mental health issues, and had been in trouble with the law before. He had earlier been accused of assaulting his sister, and was once kicked out if an apartment for squatting.
Despite what he once described to a mental health worker as a “great” upbringing as well as college degree and service in both the Army Reserves and National Guard, he was charged with burglary in 2011 and told a judge that he had been treated for bipolar disorder.
The man who police say killed and dismembered his mom and stepdad remained silent after his arrest, and police had to wheel him into the station in a wheelchair. Watch a local news report on the grisly murder, above.