Authorities have identified the homicide victim whose remains were discovered a week ago at Goodwill Chapel Trailer Park.
Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond told the Democrat on Friday that tattoos on the victim’s body helped lead investigators to the identity of 35-year-old Mandy M. Black, of Marshall. Black’s remains were first discovered by maintenance workers at the mobile home park, which is located south of Sedalia, on Sunday.
“This was the result of good, hard police work,” Bond said. “We got some pictures from the autopsy and picked up some possible matches in our records and we were able to make positive identification based on that.”
Bond said forensic evidence indicates Black was killed sometime around the first of the year, but she had never been reported missing.
“We don’t know much about (Black). I can tell you she has been in the Department of Corrections. She was on probation or parole and had not met with her PNP officer for probation and parole violation and there was an active warrant on her,” Bond said. “She has been in our facility here in Pettis County three times, twice in late ’90s and the last time in 2005. We had not had contact with her in eight or nine years.”
The remains were first discovered by park maintenance workers outside Trailer No. 19, the former residence of Joseph F. Arbeiter, 65, who was arrested at the residence on April 30 and charged with attempted rape, sodomy, three counts of assault, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action. He is currently being held at the Pettis County Jail on a $500,000 bond.
Arbeiter is now considered a person of interest in the homicide investigation and Bond confirmed that investigators have questioned Arbeiter about the discovery, but he could not comment further on what information, if any, he provided.
Officials believe Arbeiter lived at Trailer No. 19 for the past 18 months, but aren’t sure how long he has been in Pettis County prior to that.
“Obviously IDing the victim gives us another avenue to pursue so from this point we will be branching out in the investigation,: Bond said. “I think things are proceeding well. Whether or not we eventually have charges against Arbeiter remains to be seen, but he is in custody. We want to make sure all our bases are covered.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier this week that Arbeiter, then 15-years-old, was charged with the murder of Nancy Zanone, 28, a married mother of two young children, during a burglary Dec. 2, 1963.
He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole, however, in October 1966, the state Supreme Court overturned Arbeiter’s life sentence and sent the case back to the trial court, saying his statements to police were inadmissible because officers failed to take him “immediately” to the juvenile court, as the law required given his age.
After the case was sent back to the trial court, the circuit attorney’s office subpoenaed Arbeiter’s juvenile records over his lawyer’s objections. Arbeiter was convicted again and sentenced to 40 years on a second-degree murder charge.
But the Missouri Supreme Court decided in January 1970 that Arbeiter’s juvenile records should have remained sealed and that without them, the state did not have sufficient proof of his guilt.
In 1970, he was indicted in a rape case but later cleared. He served four years on a 1971 burglary conviction, then in 1974 was charged with murder in the killing of a tavern owner in Herculaneum and sexual assault of a woman there. A jury acquitted him of those charges in 1976, The Post-Dispatch reported.
Bond said investigators will now focus on Black’s activities over the preceeding months and urged individuals with any information to call the Pettis County Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline at 660-827-TIPS, or call the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office at 660-827-0052.