Body of Florida mother found inside scrapped upright freezer six years after she went missing
35-year-old Heather Anne Lacey — who was living on the streets and suffered from bipolar disorder — had been missing since Thanksgiving in 2013
The body of a South Florida woman who had been missing for the last six years was found inside a used upright freezer at a scrap warehouse on the Northwest Eighth Street in Margate.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the unpleasant discovery of the body of 35-year-old Heather Anne Lacey was made by the owner of the business, Lilian Argueta, in March. Argueta, 55, confessed she was so frightened by the sight she began screaming.
She said she initially thought she had found either a witch, or a mannequin, but that she soon came to the horrifying realization that it was a human body because of the bad odor emanating from it.
She and her mechanic, Steven Calcano, who ran to the warehouse from his nearby shop after hearing Argueta's screams, described Lacey's body as shrunken and with skin darkened similar to what a mummy would have.
Lacey, a divorced mother-of-two and a graduate of Florida International University in Miami, went missing around Thanksgiving 2013 when she was 30-years-old. Her family had not heard from her since.
"My dad was talking to her every day until Thanksgiving," said Amber Lacey, one of her two younger sisters. "She needed that phone for business and when it was disconnected, I knew something was wrong."
In December 2013, her father filed a missing-persons report for her with the Broward Sheriff's Office, informing the authorities that she had been living on the streets and suffered from bipolar disorder.
While it was unclear how or why she had disappeared, family and friends feared it had to do with her drug problem.
Lacey reportedly developed an addiction for painkillers, cocaine, and other narcotics when she was 23, this was after a Cesarean section during the birth of one of her children did not go well.
In the years after that operation, she was arrested several times in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties for non-violent drug offenses of drug possession and prostitution, and even served a year in state prison for forging a check and identity theft.
As the search for her continued in the months after her disappearance, her family heard from maintenance men at motels in Hallandale Beach, one of the locations where she frequented as a prostitute, that something had happened to the 35-year-old.
"She was a very smart girl and had a lot going for her and unfortunately, her downfall was getting into drugs, doing drugs and being addicted," Lacey's mother Patti Palumbo told the Sun-Sentinel. "It put her in a cycle that led us here."
And though she was an addict, her family said they always stayed in touch with her and that she stayed in touch with her children, who were living with other relatives. Palumbo said that, while they doled out "tough love" to Lacey, her disappearance was something they immediately noticed.
Hollywood Police and the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office is now working to solve the case, and her family is hoping they succeed. "Police would always tell me somebody is going to get in trouble and will know something and want to help themselves out," Palumbo said. "That was my best hope."