‘Bizarre’ case includes a dead body and ride to Arkansas

New York state Forensic Investigation Unit investigators suit up behind 329 N. Perry St. in Johnstown this morning. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

JOHNSTOWN — City police today released details of a “bizarre” case of a dead elderly North Perry Street man whose body was transported in a 19-hour trip in a suitcase in the back of a pickup truck from Johnstown to Arkansas.

Police Lt. David Gilbo conducted a press conference this afternoon across the street from a home at 329 N. Perry St. That home had yellow police crime tape around it.

City police and state police investigators today have been combing the home for clues from a search warrant signed by Acting City Court Judge Louise K. Sira.

Gilbo said Johnstown police and Arkansas police authorities have been conducting a joint investigation since Sunday. He said remains of an elderly man who lived at the 329 N. Perry St. home were found at 1:15 p.m. Sunday in a suitcase in a blue pickup truck found in Desarc, Ark.

State police tipped Johnstown police off to the remains of a man whose name isn’t being released at this time. He is believed to have been 89 to 90 years old.

Gilbo said Johnstown police kept the North Perry Street under surveillance Monday and then secured today’s warrant. An unidentified woman who lives in the two-family home was questioned today at the police station, but not charged.

The case is not being treated as a homicide at this time, Gilbo said.

“We believe he died of natural causes,” he said.

He said Michael Stivers, who resided at the North Perry Street home, was taken into custody by Arkansas authorities. A woman who was also in the truck is at-large, believed to be in the Little Rock area, Gilbo said.

“It does seem bizarre,” the lieutenant said of the case.

Gilbo said the incident was investigated by Arkansas state police and the Prairie County Sheriff’s Department in Arkansas.

Asked what the man and woman who took the body were going to do with it, he said they gave no indication.

More details will be released on the internet and in the print edition on Thursday.

By Patricia Older

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