Orange fingernail polish helped investigators identify a missing 17-year-old whose remains were found Tuesday in the backyard of her neighbor’s home in Indiana, authorities said.
Valerie Tindall’s family reported her missing on June 8, more than five months earlier , the Rush County Sheriff’s Department said in a Facebook post.
Patrick Scott, 59, who lives behind the Tindalls, was arrested and charged with murder after admitting to killing her on June 7, according to a criminal homicide report. Scott also was charged with obstruction of justice and giving false information to a law enforcement officer, according to charging documents.
The court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on Thursday, records show. CNN reached out to a public defender for Scott but he was unavailable for comment.
Scott told Rush County Sheriff’s detectives he strangled Tindall with a belt in his home after an argument, according to the criminal homicide report. Scott owns a lawn mowing business, and Tindall works for him, the report said.
Scott told detectives he built a box the following day and put Tindall’s body in it after wrapping it with black plastic and then taping it, the report said.
He placed the box in a hole in his backyard, covering it by using a shovel, the report said.
Scott initially advised law enforcement and Tindall’s family that he had not seen Tindall, nor had she worked for him on June 7, according to the criminal homicide report.
Scott and his wife went to the Tindall residence on June 7 “in an attempt to support” Valerie’s family, according to the report.
Tindall’s body was discovered earlier this week after officials executed a search warrant at Scott’s home, the report stated.
When police located the human remains, they noticed orange fingernails, which is the color of nail polish Tindall was last seen wearing on a social media post on June 7, the report said.
Scott had been a person of interest early in the investigation, the sheriff’s office said. According to the criminal homicide report, on October 11, police searched Scott’s property with cadaver dogs, which signaled the presence of human remains in a pond nearby, but there were no remains found in the pond after a search.
On October 12, during a flyover search, the report said, officials noted multiple areas of disturbed ground on Scott’s property.
Search warrants were requested on Monday, and the body was found on Tuesday.
Tindall’s cause of death is still pending results of toxicology and a final autopsy report, authorities say.
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