Man and woman ac­cused of dump­ing body at ceme­tery, Colum­bus po­lice say

Ledger-Enquirer - - Local - BY BEN WRIGHT [email protected]

After a night of abus­ing crack co­caine, a woman who had heart prob­lems fell ill and died be­fore her par­tially dis­robed body was dumped along the road at Green Acres Ceme­tery, a Colum­bus po­lice de­tec­tive said Thurs­day in Recorder’s Court.

Ben­ito Lewis, 51, and Sherry Roach, 58, both of Colum­bus pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of con­ceal­ing the death of 34-year-old Michelle Diane Cham­bers. Judge Julius Hunter set the bond at $20,000 for Lewis and $10,000 for Roach and bound the charges over to Musco­gee Su­pe­rior Court.

Po­lice de­tec­tive Sher­man Hayes said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the death started March 4 after Lewis sur­ren­dered to po­lice on a theft by tak­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cle charge after he didn’t re­turn the ve­hi­cle he bor­rowed. Dur­ing his ar­rest, Lewis ut­tered that po­lice needed to in­ves­ti­gate the body at Green Acres Ceme­tery.

Au­thor­i­ties went to the 1485 Schat­ulga Road lo­ca­tion and found a par­tially dressed woman be­side the road at the ceme­tery.

Lewis said the woman was a good friend of his. He said on the night of March 3 they ended up at a house party with drugs and she be­came ill in a back bed­room. The two then went to Roach’s home at 770 Black Oak Drive, where Lewis paid $50 to rent a bed­room where they could drink al­co­hol and use drugs.

Hayes said the woman died in­side the house, but Roach didn’t want the po­lice there be­cause she was on pro­ba­tion and had drugs. Lewis knew the woman’s rel­a­tives and could have called po­lice but didn’t be­fore he and Lewis took the body to Green Acres and dropped it off, the de­tec­tive said.

Musco­gee County Coro­ner Buddy Bryan wasn’t in court but said an au­topsy was com­pleted on May 25 and de­ter­mined that Cham­bers died of acute co­caine in­tox­i­ca­tion and hy­per­ten­sive car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. No al­co­hol was found in her sys­tem, but she had health prob­lems with blocked ar­ter­ies.

Roach and Lewis told po­lice they didn’t kill Cham­bers. War­rants were is­sued a week ago be­fore both were taken into cus­tody Wed­nes­day.

Al­fonza Whi­taker, who rep­re­sented Lewis, said his client co­op­er­ated with po­lice. “Ac­tions of the de­fen­dant didn’t cause the death,” he said.

Sherry Roach

Ben­ito Lewis

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