Authorities in Colorado say they are investigating a horrific murder-suicide case where police found dismembered body parts belonging to a housekeeper scattered inside and outside the apartment of a man who hired her for a job.
Officers with the Aurora Police Department, about 14 miles east of downtown Denver, found the woman's remains Wednesday while conducting a welfare check at an apartment complex after her son reported her missing earlier in the day.
The Arapahoe County Coroner's office identified the victim as 62-year-old Elena Vonfeldt and she died as a result of homicide. Her exact cause of death is pending autopsy and toxicology results, the office's senior death Investigator Shannon Sanmo told USA TODAY on Monday.
Before first finding a portion of the woman's remains in the home, police reported, officers entered the apartment and said they heard a single gunshot. Officers then conducted a safety check inside and said they found a 30-year-old Aurora man dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On Monday, the coroner's office identified the man as 30-year-old Dwayne Anthony Jones. His official cause and manner of death remained under investigation by the coroner on Monday, Sanmo said.
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Concerned son calls police, welfare check is performed
On the evening police found Vonfeldt's remains, her son called police and told officers his mother failed to arrive at 7 a.m. for a housekeeping job. He also told officers she failed to show up to other appointments she had scheduled later that day.
When officers arrived at the apartment complex, they said they found Vonfeldt's car parked outside. When the son provided officers with the apartment number of the housekeeping job, officers attempted "to contact the resident inside without success."
That's when police said they decided to enter the apartment, heard the gunshot and found Jones' body.
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Police make gruesome discovery
After finding Jones, officers also located dismembered remains belonging to an adult woman, later identified as Vonfeldt. Additional remains were discovered outside in a nearby dumpster, police reported.
Evidence was collected from the scene, police said, then taken to the coroner’s office.
A motive in the deaths remains under investigation, Joe Moylan, a public information officer for the department told USA TODAY on Monday.
Who was Elena Vondfeldt?
Moyland said Vonfeldt was a European immigrant and "a caregiver of some kind" to the suspect’s father, Dwayne Jones Sr.
"(Detectives) likely won’t have a clear picture of what happened for several months," Moylan said. "We believe the suspect and the victim likely knew each other, but for how long and specifically how they knew each other is still under investigation."
He also confirmed Jones Jr. does not have an adult criminal history with Aurora police.
Public records show Jones Jr. had lived in the apartment complex on and off since 2012; they also show his father lived in the same unit as his son at one point.
Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gruesome discovery: Housekeeper found dismembered in murder-suicide