The Philadelphia police department is investigating after they say a body was found inside a trash bag in the back of a U-Haul truck during a traffic stop in Northeast Philadelphia.
Dead body found in a U-Haul truck
It started with a call to police about a possible burglary and a U-Haul truck. It ended with a gruesome discovery after police pulled the truck over and the nervous driver got out with a startling admission. He immediately spilled the beans and told police that he is transporting a dead body in the truck.
“Gets out of the vehicle says he had nothing to do with it, he’s just moving the body, and there’s one in the back,” Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Gripp said.
When officers opened the back of the U-Haul they found the dismembered body of a man stuffed in a black trash bag along with a knife and other criminal evidence. They quickly secured the scene and called for homicide detectives.
Police say the 70-year-old murder victim lived just a few blocks away on Sanibel Street in Philadelphia. His home is surrounded by surveillance cameras and commercial style beehives. There were birds and exotic animals inside.
The driver of the U-Haul and his passenger were immediately taken to the Homicide Unit for questioning. Police say they are persons of interest. The truck and dismembered body were taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
Police have not been able to identify the dismembered body but are working under the premise the victim is the owner of this home. Neighbors ID him as Peter Gerold … Neighbors say he was kind , gentle and offered work around his property often to those down on their luck … pic.twitter.com/S0VOgqv3Ge
— Annie McCormick (@6abcAnnie) February 11, 2021
Dismembered body found in Philadelphia
On Thursday night, officers found more body parts, specifically a leg and a hand, in a dumpster behind a Wawa at Kelvin Street and Bustleton Avenue less than a third of a mile away from the first crime scene. Police said the body parts could belong to the same victim.
Sgt. Gripp said police were called by a neighbor to the same home on Sanibel Street on Wednesday by a neighbor for a welfare check. Officers walked around the perimeter but saw nothing unusual.
Neighbors identified the owner of the home as Peter Gerold, who operated “Kneading You Therapy,” a massage therapy practice out of his house. Neighbors said they noticed Gerold’s cars missing earlier this week.
Police have not said if the body found in the U-Haul was positively identified as Gerold. Sources, however, said investigators also found pieces of body parts in an unattached garage behind his home and it looks like someone tried to burn the body, too.
He also grew honey and would deliver to his neighbors, said next door neighbor Tiffany McLean.
“He was always willing to help people no matter what; it’s so sad,” McLean said.
Neighbor Linda Xander said he was known to offer work around the house to people and may have been too trusting.
“We figured he was always helping them do something, you know…I guess this is his payback for doing something nice,” said Xander.