Woman’s Body and Severed Head Found — Police Say Truck Driver Ran Her Over and Hid Her Remains

Police arrested Anthony Harris in connection with the death of Melody Gooch, whose headless body was found at a truck stop in South Dakota, per authorities

<p>Courtesy of South Dakota Attorney General

Courtesy of South Dakota Attorney General's Office

Melody Gooch
  • Melody Gooch was found with her head severed and "skinned" at a truck stop in South Dakota, police say

  • Her family told authorities that she was last seen with Anthony Harris, who has been arrested in connection with her death, according to an affidavit

  • Gooch's injuries indicate that she was "struck by a vehicle" and then dragged away, according to an arrest affidavit

A Michigan truck driver has been arrested in connection with the death of a woman, whose headless body was found in South Dakota, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police found the body of 57-year-old Melody Gooch with gruesome injuries near a travel center in Mitchell, S.D., on March 11, per the affidavit, which was shared by KELO and reviewed by PEOPLE.

Anthony Harris, 60, was arrested in Washington state on March 14 on charges of second-degree murder and burying a body without legal authority, per the affidavit.

Gooch’s remains were found by a person who called Mitchell police on the evening of March 11. The caller reported finding a body covered by a stack of pallets at the truck stop, per the affidavit.

A responding officer determined that the victim had seemingly been “struck by a vehicle” and that her wounds indicated she may have been “dragged away from the initial impact point,” authorities said in the affidavit.

Gooch's body was found without her head, according to an autopsy cited in in the affidavit, and with a portion of her spine missing.

When police carried out a search at the site where her remains had been found, they located a "skinned" and severed head and a bloodied sneaker in a bag inside a dumpster on the property of the travel stop, per the affidavit.

The autopsy found that the woman could not have died from "any other trauma other than being hit, struck or run over by a vehicle," the affidavit states.

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Authorities watched several security videos nearby the site, which allegedly showed a semi-truck engaging in "suspicious" activities at the spots where Gooch's remains were found, according to the affidavit.

They saw the truck allegedly back up more than five times on the spot where Gooch's body was later found, police said. The video also allegedly showed the driver picking up an object from that area, then driving toward the dumpster where he briefly stopped, police said.

Subsequently, upon interviewing Gooch's family, police learned that she was last seen with Harris, authorities noted in the affidavit. Harris allegedly denied knowing where Gooch was.

Police also interviewed Harris' employer and, using his work log hours and cell phone records, they placed him near both scenes where Gooch's body was found, with timing that was consistent with the activities of the semi-truck they saw in the security footage, per the affidavit.

When he was arrested in Yakima, Wash., Harris was reportedly in the same semi-truck as the one seen in the security footage, police alleged in the affidavit. Gooch's cause of death has not been determined.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Harris has entered a plea to the charges or retained an attorney.

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