A dead Ohio woman dangling from a chain-link fence was taken for a Halloween prank, but when construction workers removed the body this week, they quickly discovered the horror was real.
Authorities believe Rebecca Cade, 31, died on the fence, which she climbed to escape her attacker. On Tuesday morning, contractors found her body on a dead-end street near a power plant in Chillicothe and alerted police.
One neighbor, Tammy Dixon, thought Cade’s body was a fake zombie when she spotted it Tuesday and told her 8-year-old daughter it was only a “dummy.”
“It was the worst Halloween scene that you could ever imagine,” Dixon told WCPO Cincinnati. “It was straight out of a horror story. She was hanging basically on that fence over there, with her left hand up.”
Cade died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, police say, and had defense wounds on her arms. Chillicothe police detective Bud Lytle told The Daily Beast said she was identified through fingerprints. He could not describe the extent of her facial injuries, however, pending an investigation.
An acquaintance, Donnie Cochenour Jr., 27, has been charged with Cade's murder. It’s unclear how Cochenour knew the victim, but he allegedly told investigators they had an argument sometime before she was found.
“We believe that the body had been there overnight, not for days,” Lytle said.
Cops found a trail of blood and believe Cade was running from the suspect and had climbed the 8-foot-high metal fence, where she likely died. The barrier separates an electric power substation from the quiet neighborhood.
“It’s something you hope to have to never investigate,” Lytle said. “She had climbed that fence, trying to get out and caught her sleeve. She was hanging there ... and the construction workers thought it was a Halloween decoration until they walked up to her.”
Police were first called to the area Tuesday after a man walking his dog found Cade’s drivers license and a shoe about 150 yards from the body. Authorities also discovered a possible murder weapon: a bloody rock the size of a grapefruit.
Cochenour, pictured in a mug shot with a neck tattoo, has an extensive criminal history and was once found not guilty by reason of insanity in a previous assault case, People.com reported.
On Wednesday, Cochenour was on suicide watch. At his arraignment, he appeared on video wearing special clothing to prevent harm to himself and sat with his head dropped to one side while answering the judge’s questions, the Dispatch reported.
Cochenour’s family told 10TV they’ve long been concerned about his mental stability, and officials said he has diagnosed learning disabilities and a speech impediment, making it hard for him to communicate.
Ross County prosecutor Matt Schmidt said nothing indicated Cade’s death is tied to the frightening disappearances of six Chillicothe women, four of whom turned up dead, in the span of just one year.
The unsolved cases have stoked residents’ fears of a serial killer. Police believe the women were involved in drugs or prostitution.
Friends described Cade as a troubled woman who struggled with drug abuse but was trying to get her life together.
“Rebecca didn’t deserve that, what happened to her,” said Denise Hughes, who is who is raising Cade’s 15-month-old son, her nephew. The child has fetal alcohol syndrome, she said.
Hughes told the Dispatch Cade was “always running the streets and always doing the drugs, but she had people who loved her.”
“I hope she knew that,” she added.